- 23 Dec 2010
Youth happy to be given a 'Voice' at 7th World Conference on Sport, Education and Culture
Singapore 2010 Young Reporter Alan Harris wraps-up the Durban conference
'Giving a Voice to Youth' was the slogan of the 7th World Conference on Sport, Education and Culture. Organized by the International Olympic Committee(IOC) in partnership with UNESCO, 12 participants of the first-ever Youth Olympic Games - held this past summer in Singapore - gathered to share their thoughts and dreams with more than 450 international delegates from the world of sport, Universities, NGO's, governments and intergovernmental agencies.
The Conference was historic in its context. It was one of the first times that the IOC and UNSECO teamed up for such a significant initiative involving the youth - a demographic representing over 18% of the global population.
Six Young Ambassadors, three YOG athletes and three Young Reporters, representing countries such as Austria, Barbados, Brazil, Indonesia and Rwanda, took to the stage and declared their hopes and trust in the future generation of the world.
Twenty-six year old Florian Kogler, a Young Ambassador from Innsbruck, Austria - the site of the first-ever Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012 - said he felt honored and inspired to have been given the opportunity to address such a large and influential global gathering.
"For a long time now, this sort of forum is what my generation has been asking for", he said.
"What we have to offer, as the younger generation of the world, in our thoughts and ideas, is very important. What the IOC and UNESCO have done here in Durban is sensational. I really hope this initiative continues."
"We are here to break stereotypes", declared Young Ambassador Devon Van Der Merwe, from South Africa.
Flanked by Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC, Van Der Merwe delivered a well-received speech during the opening Plenary discussion of the Conference. "This experience for me has been life-changing", he added. "First to attend the Singapore Youth Olympic Games, then to get the chance to report back to the powers that be; that is incredible. As a young person I couldn't have asked for more."
Diacounda Sene, a Young Reporter from Senegal, delighted in that fact that she could speak in her native French and be understood.
"Finally, everyone in the room could understand me", she said with her typical broad smile.
And her English isn't that bad either.
"It’s nice to have such an international conference with people from all over word. There were people here from so many different countries. It was awesome to be finally heard".
Joseph Parker, 18, the YOG Super Heavy Weight boxing champ from New Zealand thought: "This experience in Durban, like the YOG in Singapore, has proven that young people from all different walks of life can come together and share in the common Olympic Values of Respect, Excellence and Friendship. It was also good to meet some other young people who share my similar sentiments about societal issues."
After the United Nations declared 2010-2011 the 'Year of the Youth', the inclusion of young people on the program in Durban proved to be an overwhelming success.
In a move in keeping with 'Giving a Voice to Youth', the initiative was suggested for adoption for future events.
This is another strategy by which the UN and the Olympic Movement have sought to give greater voice to youth in a global forum particularly for sport, education and culture.