I originally took on this journey on behalf of my generation because, though I know that the issues my peers are facing are big and complex and overwhelming and that I cannot solve them, I want young people to know that there is hope, that people do care, that people are willing to be part of bringing about change and that no one has to be alone in their struggles. I want to somehow give my generation the platform to feel empowered and proud and hopeful. I believe that community and human connection have the power to do that.
On our journey, we’ve discovered that by rebuilding their communities ordinary people are creating their own solutions to the struggles they face. Simply by coming together, crossing divides and supporting one another, they are changing the face of the society we live in for the better. I want young people to be involved in this. I want them to feel the same sense of belonging I’ve felt through being part of these communities, the same sense of pride and warmth and empowerment.
It’s plain to see that my generation are struggling, but I’ve learnt that when we are given the opportunity to be part of our communities and help make them a better place, we are simultaneously given hope for our future too. If we are an essential part of our communities now, we will feel responsibility and care towards them throughout our lifetimes because they’re ours and we played a part in shaping them. Young people have so much to give – our talents and gifts, our life experiences and knowledge, our ideas and creativity. Our communities and society are our inheritance, but we are part of them now.
We are a generation who crave social interaction and I believe that we can find the same belonging we seek in our friend groups and online in our communities amongst people of all generations and walks of life. I can tell you from my own experience that we can find as much fun, laughter, support, strength and purpose from spending time with groups of people in our communities as we can in the familiarity and restriction of our comfort zones. Community exists in so many ways, shapes and forms, but every single one of us has an invaluable part to play in it.
Older generations, please recognise the necessity of what we have to contribute and help us get involved. Guide us with your experiences and wisdom, but listen to our voices too. Young people, I know it may be hard to know where to start and that it’s a step outside of our comfort zone, but our communities are as much ours as they are anyone else’s and we have to take ownership, we have to work together to make the communities and society we live in better for everyone using what we’re passionate about and what we’re good at. I know you probably hear this a lot, but this is our future and the power to shape it lies in our hands. It’s up to us what we do with it.