On this occasion of the International Youth Day, we are presented with the opportunity to boost the awareness drive on matters that concern youth development. The youth face all kinds of obstacles as they struggle to acquire the skills needed to transition into adulthood.
Today, they find limited opportunities to express new ideas and are often not in positions of power to grow them. Although problems of the youth have been acknowledged in various documents, culminating into a national youth policy, its impact is yet to be felt.
In commemorating this important day, we must ensure that, the development of the youth begin from the basic units of society like the family, schools and religious establishments.
I believe strongly that older generations must inspire the young to reach for greater heights and create avenues for them to test new ideas and develop new science. Corporate organisations and political parties must also appreciate the need to prepare their youthful members to take over in future.
The youth is often called the future of the world, and rightly so. But at a time when 85 per cent of the world’s population fall within the youth bracket, with most living in emerging economies, we must acknowledge also that the future is now.
The UN, which set aside this day for the youth has dedicated it to raising awareness of their mental health needs. It says wide ranging efforts at all levels are needed to discourage stigmatisation and discrimination against people with mental health challenges. Increased education is crucial to reducing stigma and in changing how we talk about and perceive mental health.
On the local front, we are threatened by the outbreak of the Ebola virus. Since February it has ravaged through a few of our West African neighbours, causing much suffering and fast approaching the toll of a thousand deaths.
The youth, who form a majority of our population, will not be spared if this disease crosses over into the country. Authorities must boost the sensitisation efforts not just in the urban areas but in the rural places where quick access to proper health care is non-existent. Especially when there is no known cure for this disease, our rural folks must be taught preventative practices and signs to look out for possible infections.
There is hope for Ghana, I therefore encourage the teaming youth of our country not to live in despair but embrace the present moment by believing in themselves and their God-given talents for a prosperous future.
ALAN JOHN KYEREMATEN
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