Youth Community Leadership Initiative commemorates International Day of Peace 2022 at MAS Athena
Tuesday, October 4, 2022, 10:27 a.m. SL time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.
Oct 04, Thulhiriya: The Youth Community Leadership Initiative (YCLI), a joint program of the National Youth Services Council (NYSC), in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Volunteers (UNV) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Sri Lanka gathered to commemorate the International Day of Peace celebrated on September 21 every year.
In collaboration with MAS Athena, the ‘YCLI Peace Day Celebration’ took place from September 19 to 21, 2022, at the premises of MAS Athena in Thulhiriya, with the participation of more than 500 young people from all over Sri Lanka.
The 3-day event featured a wide variety of youth activities including a special youth parliamentary session, a peace village and a peace festival providing a platform for young leaders in Sri Lanka to engage in community action to promote wellness in their communities.
On the first day, representatives from all partner agencies came together to sign the Peace Day Pledge, to reiterate their commitment to ensuring young people have the opportunity to participate and engage in their communities. Meaningful youth participation aims to promote social cohesion, sustainable development and community well-being.
Commenting on their role, NYSC President/CEO Brig. Dr Thiran De Silva said: “The active participation of young people is very important for the development of Sri Lanka. In recognition of this, the National Board of Youth Services has made reforms giving more voice to young people in decision-making processes and giving them oversight as well. We also support young people by introducing course programs in terms of language skills and technical skills. We call on young people to take advantage of all the opportunities available to them to learn and contribute to the community.
The commemorative event is part of the YCLI project which promotes peace, justice and strong institutions, while ensuring the integration of health promotion, sustainable development and voluntary action allowing young people to participate as agents of change to build a healthier and safer Sri Lanka.
Speaking to the global joint initiative, Dr Shalala Ahmadova, Public Health Officer for the World Health Organization in Sri Lanka, said: “As WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus, ‘there can be no health without peace and there can be no peace without health.’ This is symbolized by the many Global Health for Peace Initiatives (GHPIs). In Sri Lanka, health has played an important role in enabling social cohesion by empowering communities. In such action, young people are central in using their skills and talents to use health-related interventions to strengthen communities. It is therefore a great pleasure for me to see these young people come together on this International Day of Peace. This gives me hope that future YCLI interventions will promote health and well-being, in communities across Sri Lanka and its people.
The International Center for Youth, Health and Peace hosted at MAS Athena was inaugurated during the event. The unit will promote sustainable peace, health and well-being in community settings, while acting as a center of learning and development for the general public. This includes a virtual reality peace museum, a promotional digital play space for peace and a knowledge corner with publications, reports, learning materials, networking details and other resources supporting local initiatives for the promotion of peace and health.
Highlighting the importance of collaboration, Mr. Suminda De Silva, CEO of MAS Fabric Park, said, “We are honored to have supported this event in commemoration of the International Day of Peace. MAS has always recognized the need for a collaborative knowledge center and has worked tirelessly to provide a platform where people can interact with each other to inspire creativity and build understanding. We hope to continue working with partners to bring about positive changes in our society to create peace and development.
The Peace Day celebrations further provided YCLI participants with the opportunity to use the knowledge they gained throughout the program and recommend an inclusive, sustainable and people-centered national youth policy. equity through the youth parliamentary debate sessions that were organized during the event. Speaking on the promotion of the Youth, Peace and Security agenda in Sri Lanka, Ms. Malin Herwig, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Sri Lanka, said: “The potential of young people for change and positive action is largely untapped. To promote civic engagement and active citizenship, we must ensure that young people are provided with opportunities and training to participate in their communities to promote social cohesion and sustainable development.
Adding to this, Ms. Sharmalee Jayasinghe, Country Coordinator, UNV in Sri Lanka, noted, “As the present and future of all nations, we must recognize youth as one of the greatest treasures of a nation. Over the years, we have witnessed how young volunteers have often been at the forefront as first responders supporting grassroots communities. Through volunteerism, UNV Sri Lanka will continue to support young people as they continue to inspire others to create inclusive and peaceful societies.