Interview of Sarah Barrie, Youth Service America by Liam F., Youth Journalist
Q. Sarah, can you please tell me about YSA, The Youth Service America – Youth Changing the World?
A. Youth Service America (YSA) is a global nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, DC. Our mission is to help all young people find their voice, take action, and make an impact on vital community issues. We work through four key areas to help achieve our goals: Activation, Funding, Training, and Recognition. With half of the world’s population under the age of 25, we support a global culture of engaged children and youth committed to a lifetime of meaningful service, leadership and learning.
Q. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, stated that the young people of the world, can shape our history – the SDG Generation (Sustainable Development Goal) can lead us into a better future, can you explain what the SDG’s goals are to achieve by 2030?
A. I’m thrilled to hear that you know about the Sustainable Development Goals! In September 2015, 193 world leaders agreed to 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development. If the goals are completed, it would mean an end to extreme poverty, inequality and climate change by 2030. These 17 Goals are listed here: www.ysa.org/causes. Within each goal, you’ll find project ideas, stories of youth who are focusing their efforts on that SDG, YSA Partner’s focused on that SDG, as well as resources to help you plan your own project.
At YSA, we believe that young people are vital to helping achieve these goals. By aligning the work that we do at YSA with the SDGS, we hope to achieve these four outcomes:
· Young people will make the planet sustainable
· Young people will gain constructive skills for employment
· Young people will act and think as global citizens
· Adults will respect young people as assets and resources to solve the world’s most vital community issues.
Q. The YSA Programs for Youth includes several programs where children can get involved, I would love to learn more about all these services, but in particular can you tell me about the Global Youth Service Day, which is the largest service event in the world and the only one that celebrates the contributions that children and youth make 365 days of the year?
A. Absolutely! Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) is an annual campaign that celebrates and mobilizes the millions of children and youth who improve their communities each day of the year through service and service-learning. Now in its 29th year, GYSD is the largest and longest-running service event in the world, and it is the only day of service that is dedicated to children and youth. Each year, GYSD is celebrated in 100+ countries.
Whether you’re planning a service project or a celebration event to recognize the great work that youth are doing in your community, we encourage you to participate in GYSD 2017! This year, GYSD will be held April 21-23, 2017. You can post your own project and look at other projects happening across the globe on the GYSD map, access our planning resources and toolkits, and read inspiring stories from youth at www.gysd.org.
Q. Being a youth leader is an important part of the YSA, "Be an Everyday Young Hero" is a newsletter where you feature a child making a difference. How do you select these folks and the topics?
A. Every week in the Youth Service Briefing, YSA’s weekly newsletter, we highlight an Everyday Young Hero, who is improving their community through service to others and making significant progress in achieving the SDGs. We accept all nominations, no matter the issue area, as long as the nomination is for a young person who is making a difference in their community. The thing that I love most about our Every Day Young Heroes is that they represent youth from different backgrounds, ages, locations and passions who are all working to improve their communities.
We review the nominations as they come in. We have a very tough job, because all of the nominations are truly outstanding! We have a committee of staff members who sit down to select the winners- we choose based on passion for the project, impact that the young person has made, and the sustainability/long-term impact of their project.
Q. Speaking of amazing young folks, this is Lucy’s 2nd Annual Charity event and she received two grants through the YSA. The YSA/Disney Summer of Change grant as well as the YSA/Sodexo Foundation grant – please explain why Lucy was chosen for these two grants?
A. Lucy is so awesome, as you know! I’ve been really impressed with the work that she has done and I’m thrilled that she has been awarded two grants from YSA this year. At first, I was really impressed with Lucy’s Charity Concert that she held last year, which raised $1,400 for several local charities. When I read her grant application, Lucy talked about how she was continuing her concert, but also adding various activities to engage youth at the concert, including a recipe contest and food drive.
In both of her grant applications, it was very apparent that Lucy wanted to engage everyone in her community- her classmates, their families, local businesses, etc.- and that she was passionate about making a difference. Lucy had also done her research and provided us with reasons why her project was important and would clearly make a difference in her community. I’ve been so impressed with Lucy’s ability to get other people to join her cause, and I’m excited to see how she continues to make an impact this GYSD!
Q. For the other young people who are wanting to change the world, how do they find you and your organization?