Opening the panel, Sofia Carson, Actress, Singer, Activist, and UNICEF USA Ambassador, thanked the audience for the privilege of amplifying youth voices and advocating for an equitable world, ensuring their place at the table. In Barbados, Ashley Lashley, Founder of HEY (Healthy and Environmentally-Friendly Youth), is working to combat non-communicable diseases like obesity, noting that the health of people is linked with the health of environments. In this way, climate change will have an impact on physical and mental health.
Kyle King, National Youth Council Member of UNICEF USA, reminded the audience that all of today’s problems are affecting youth as much as or more than all other generations. Young people have a stake in the solution as much as others, because today’s youth will ultimately implement these solutions and inherit the world after. Ayaan Siddiqui, National Youth Council Member of UNICEF USA, explained UNICEF’s approach in reaching and encouraging young people at the local level to foster a generation of advocates.
Lashley quoted her father, who inspired her with a reminder to not let any obstacle be greater than the cause for which you fight. King was similarly inspired by other young people in the Youth Council who are fighting for a variety of causes. Siddiqui said that anyone can find inspiration without feeling overwhelmed by starting in their own communities. The panel ended with consensus that policymakers and business people should listen earnestly to what young people have to offer and give them a tangible stake in the outcomes.
“I have dedicated my voice to the protection and education of young women, so that education is not only a privilege for young girls but an inalienable right.”
Sofia Carson, Actress, Singer, Activist, UNICEF USA Ambassador
“Everything, from economic instability to food insecurity is affecting youth just as much as any other generation, so we have a stake in the solution.”
Kyle King, National Youth Council Member, UNICEF USA
“Society doesn’t determine your destiny; you determine where you want to go, who you want to be, and the avenues in which you pivot.”
Ashley Lashley, Founder, HEY Healthy and Environmentally Friendly Youth
“You cannot make change about us without us.”
Ayaan Siddiqui, National Youth Council Member, UNICEF USA