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Global Youth Service Day
By Ajay Rai
It's tempting to make the most of summer weekends by doing your own thing, especially while the days are long and the sun is intermittently shining. But all sorts of people are happy to create a warm glow of their own by volunteering.
Having been a Londoner for most of my life, it is always a wonder to me just how much more there is still to explore in our cosmopolitan city.
This was my first trip to the Millennium Centre in Dagenham and indeed, for me, a rare foray into East London.
Global Youth Service Day, however, is a global annual event that I have participated in several times, both as a coordinator and as a volunteer.
It has several goals, one of which is to mobilize youth and adults to meet the needs of their communities through volunteering.
Therefore when initially asked to make a short video about this project I did not hesitate. On the day, however, when the sun started to shine, I did start to have my doubts:
Wouldn't I rather be somewhere else?
That was the question I put to some of the volunteers who came along that day and I was surprised by the answers I received:
"How can you say it's boring when you've never done it before? That's like me saying basketball is boring... but without ever playing it..." So said Julian Hoyte, a member of WAIT, a local youth group promoting HIV/AIDS awareness through the performing arts.
The project was also highlighting the UN Millennium Development Goals and in focus was MDG No. 7 to "ensure environmental sustainability."
Hence, the partnership with The London Wildlife Trust was very successful and you can see the results in the video.
If you would like to get involved or to organize a project of your own, the Global Peace Festival committee will be providing seed grants for social impact projects.
You can see all the related websites at the end of the video.
What inspired me most about this GYSD project was the diverse inter-cultural and inter-generational mix.
Bridging the cultural and racial gaps in society is what makes service projects in London so special.
In light of recent times, it is also encouraging to see young people actually contributing to their community.
After all, we are a leading global city and projects like this can help us to remember and feel that even more so.
last updated: 06/06/2008 at 19:58