One Young World: Reflections from a jet lagged, but inspired, attendee

By Alicia Raimundo, grateful participant supported by the Young Health Program Canada, The Sandbox Project and the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health 

This article originally appeared on the Young Health Program Canada website

From November 18 to 21, 2015, 1300 diverse young people from around the globe, bonded by a desire to improve the world, gathered together in Bangkok, Thailand. We addressed significant topics such as health, disability, refugees, climate change and prevention of hate and terrorism. As the days progressed, it became clear to me that each of these topics influences the others. 

If we don’t have a safe place to live, how can we maintain good health? If the environment around us is getting progressively worse, how will we continue to have access to good food and healthcare (especially in island states around the world that are sinking)? These are the new perspectives, projects and ideas that I am excited to bring back to the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health. They will influence our work going forward. 

Here are a few key take-aways I have from the conference:

Sometimes I need help opening doors, but only if they are shut in the first place.
— Oscar Anderson

A 15-year-old disability advocate, Oscar Anderson, made this statement. It summarizes that much of the work we do to make our programs, society and life more inclusive is because so many doors are closed to people living with disabilities. It inspires me to want to do more, in partnership with Young Canadians Roundtable on Health, to empower youth living with physical or mental disabilities (or both) to know their health rights and be brave enough to ask for their needs to be met. 

Fix the problem that’s in front of you; the rest will come.
— Professor Mohammed Yunus

Professor Mohammed Yunus shared this wisdom. What we need to do is to empower youth across Canada to solve the problem they see in front of them. Allow it to grow naturally from there, and share the information with other communities. These communities can then take what’s relevant to them to solve the problems that are in front of them. 

My problem is that I care too much.
— Hussain Manawer

“Sorry for the inconvenience, but I am trying to change the world.”  This statement was made by Hussain Manawer and reminds us that we – as young global citizens -  are not an inconvenience, but an equal partner, and our perspective matters.  The poem he shared begins and ends with, “My name is Hussain and my problem is that I care too much.”

I too care. I want nothing more than to stop young people from dying from causes that are preventable. Sometimes I want this so much that I forget to take care of myself. It’s a nice reminder that we can change the world, even if we aren’t involved in every project or event. Sometimes it is okay to let something pass by while you watch Netflix and sip a cup of tea. 

The biggest take-away from One Young World: Hope. 

One Young World connected me with amazing people and projects that I had not seen before, young people who are creating something completely new and innovative to solve problems in front of them. And what they are doing is working. 

We heard about partnerships between business and government that are addressing problems like caring for the physical and mental health of young refugees and the ways climate change will affect our lives. This gives me hope that as young Canadians, we too can build new ideas that will work. Innovation is a real possibility! 

Moving Forward 

We are incredibly fortunate to have One Young World coming to Canada in 2016. Ottawa is hosting this event and bringing together world-class change makers right in our own backyard. I have every intention of taking the inspiration and ideas that I have gathered at the 2015 One Young World into 2016, and continuing these important conversations.

Follow Alicia and the Young Canadians Roundtable on Health

To stay up-to-date on the work of Alicia, follow her on Twitter at @asraimun.

The YCRH advocates and advises on issues impacting the health of Canadian youth and future generations through collaboration, comprehensive research, discussion, independent projects and education initiatives to help ensure that Canada is the healthiest country in which children and youth can grow up. Learn more on the YCRH website.