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    Summer 2014 Youth Assembly Day 1 Afternoon

    Our afternoon session was a lot more hands on. After lunch, there were a variety of workshops that could be chosen by the delegates. One particular workshop caught my attention. It focused on the Post-2015 Development Goals. For those of you who don’t know, the Post-2015 Development Goals are an initiative currently being negotiated by the United Nations that target many of the world’s major problems, including environmental degradation, gender equality, poverty, and healthcare access. More importantly, they are trying to achieve these goals through sustainable means. This agenda is an expansion on policies that the UN already has in place called the Millennium Development Goals, which have been successful in some areas, and have fallen short in others. In this workshop we were addressed by panel of young people, many of whom I remember from the last Assembly, who explained the Post-2015 agenda and conveyed the steps that the world’s youth could take in helping achieve some Post 2015 objectives.

    We were then split into eight groups, with each group being asked to come up with a solution on a local scale to one of the goals. My group had goal number four, reducing child mortality. On the surface this seemed to be a fairly straightforward issue to me. However, the further our group discussed the topic, the more complex it became. For starters, ‘childhood’ is a fairly large span of time (frankly there are many times that I still consider myself to be a child). I’m not exactly sure, but I believe that the UN considers child mortality as those who die before the age of five, but I could be absolutely wrong so do not hold me to that. Therefore, there are probably a number of factors that cause early mortality, making one a broad policy on a local scale impossible. Therefore, we reframed our approach and thought about the main themes that could be used to reduce this problem. One recurring comment was the idea that education was key in reducing mortality among children. One of the girls in our group, Malika, spoke of how in her region of West Africa, child mortality can sometimes occur due to a lack of knowledge held by midwives on topics such as sanitization. We decided to extrapolate on this. Our plan, through an organization such as doctors without borders, was to send professionals to this region and work with the community in order to gain their trust and disseminate modern information to midwives, so that they could deliver children in the safest way possible in their environment. I gained a lot from of this activity. I was in a group of about 20 people who represented all corners of the world and, just like the last Assembly, were beyond enthusiastic to be here.

    After our workshops we regrouped to hear from our final panel on the topic of social entrepreneurship. The panel consisted of a number of social entrepreneurs such as Erin Bernhardt, a social impact documentary maker from Atlanta who has volunteered for the Peace Corps and worked for CNN, and Joshua Collins whose latest company focuses on finding young entrepreneurs whose ideas have significant social impact and catapulting them into the lime light.

    However, the standout panelist for me was Maria Myers. What this young woman has achieved is incredible. With her sister she started the non-profit Pretty Purposeful, which raises money for surgeries for women in Sierra Leone that have suffered from fistula, and injury caused by a combination of childbirth and malnutrition (here is the Wikipedia page for more information http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fistula). So far her organization has held a number of fundraisers, day camps, and has also designed a website that sells products in order to raise money for these surgeries. Oh yah, and she’s 15. 15! She started her Pretty Purposeful when she was 13! I think back to what I was doing when I was 13, and it certainly was not anything close to that. I probably didn’t even know what a non-profit was, and I certainly had no clue about fistulas.  Oh, and on top of that, she was genius, literally. She was the most eloquently and infallibly spoken person you’ll ever hear speak. Forget the fact that she’s 15.

    So that was the first day. I had an incredible and inspiring time. This initial session has given me insight into what is to come and I honestly could not be more excited for it. I’ll be back tomorrow with an update on day two.

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