Hello everyone and Happy International Youth Day!

International Youth Day is held each year on the 12th of August and is an initiative that celebrates the qualities of young people and that recognises the challenges that today’s youth can face.

International Youth Day has been celebrated officially since 2000. So for twenty-one years we have been hailing and celebrating the youth of today. 

Here at Open Theatre, we understand that young people are not only an important part of what we do but they are also our future. So with that in mind, we interviewed two young people to celebrate them and to hear their unique voices. Aoislin and Cameron are both members of our Thursday group, ‘One of a Kind’, and they had some strong and positive messages for other young people this year. 

Q1) Tell me a bit about yourself? What year are you in at school? What are your favourite subjects? 

Aoislin: I’m in year 14 at school. My favourite subjects are Maths, English and P.E. Being in year 14 means that I am in my last year at school and I am eighteen years old. 

Cameron: When I was at school, my favourite subjects were P.E, art and working on computers. I also enjoy dancing. I finished school earlier because of my anxiety. My mental health and wellbeing came first.  

Q2) What lessons do you like and dislike? Why? 

Aoislin: I like Maths, English and PE. There’s only one lesson that I don’t like, which is cooking. My condition means that I get really, really tired and I am on my feet all day. I can get really stiff and it makes me feel tired. I have to stand in cooking class which is why I don’t like it. Only people in wheelchairs are allowed to sit in cooking class. 

Cameron: I didn’t really like the smell in the kitchen for cooking. I didn’t like forest schools which were basically outside activities. The outside activities were not enjoyable in the cold weather. I didn’t like lessons where I had to write things down because the teachers expected me to know how to do it and my condition means that I find writing difficult. 

Q3) How has Covid 19 affected your schooling and participation in clubs this year? 

Aoislin: Covid 19 has affected both school and clubs for me. In lockdown last year I didn’t go to school for six months and then I went back part time. The second lockdown, I didn’t go back to school until the 8th of March 2021. With the clubs as well I didn’t go to many and those I did go to I had to social distance. It was frustrating because I couldn’t go to the clubs I usually go to. I go to sing and sign and dance club and a youth club every Monday after school which is slowly starting up again now. 

Cameron:  I used to go to clubs when I was on holiday. Covid has affected my ability to go to One of a Kind. I feel like it’s been a long time since I have been to a club in person. At the start of lockdown, attending clubs was stressful, but being used to working on zoom has made things easier. At the beginning of lockdown, there were loads of people on zoom which was hard to manage and people would talk over each other which annoyed me but things have got better with time. 

Q4) If you could shape the future, what would you want the world to be like? 

Aoislin: I like going out shopping so I would like shops to have the same layout and signs inside. For example, I would have a Clarks shoe shop that sells the same shoes and has the same signs in every Clarks shop across the country so that it is not confusing. I think all shops whether they are a Primark, or a supermarket should look the same as other Primark’s or other supermarkets inside.  

Cameron: I would change, hmmm what would I change? I would perhaps have the cinemas open again and perhaps have everything back to the way it was before Covid. I would also like to be able to go on holiday again. 

Q5) if you could give a message to all of the young people out there what would you say to them? 

Aoislin: My message to other young people is to always stay positive. 

Cameron: I would say keep strong, be positive, and maybe pray if you are religious. Keep your dogs safe and always be kind to others. If you need to talk to anyone, talk to your family and friends. Stay safe and stay positive. 

What you can do to mark the day:

This year’s theme is global action aiming to understand how we can get young people interested in political issues and how we can best represent those who are politically active.  Young people already contribute so much to our society. Both of our young people have inspired the team with their positivity and have given us hope. In order to celebrate the day, there are many things you can do.

Let the young people in your life know that they are valid and that their opinions matter. Listen to them and treat them equally. Do not invalidate them because they are young. Do not make statements such as “you will understand when you are older” or “you are too young to understand.” Help them to understand now and treat them as equal, and with respect. 

You can also join the social media #31DaysOfYOUth, a campaign that will celebrate young people throughout the month of August, leading up and following International Day, to help spread the word and strike up a conversation surrounding youth engagement for global action! Be the change that you want to see in the world and help us create a future where young people are seen, respected and heard!

-Written by Madeleine Levy