International Youth Day 2017: Our Young People Discuss the Issues That Affect Them


Above: Hamza and Nimco.

Saturday 12 August marks International Youth Day. Has it been a year already?! Wow. We swear, it feels as if we were only just celebrating last year’s IYD, where all sorts of stuff involving things took place in events across the globe.

Jokes aside, we want to take International Youth Day – which FYI falls between Play in the Sand Day (Aug 11, not a joke) and International Lefthanders Day (Aug 13, also not a joke) – as an opportunity to highlight the younger generation’s role in building a more peaceful future. After all, this year’s theme is literally Youth Building Peace.

2017 has been a particularly upsetting year. One way we’ve coped with these trying times is by supporting one another; through talking and airing our concerns. This is why we run Elays Corner, a debate / discussion / get together that allows us to tackle issues affecting young people, all in a positive space.

In honour of International Youth Day, we spoke with Elays members Hamza and Nimco in the most youth way possible – Whatsapp – so they could tell us more about the issues that affect them, as well as Elays Corner itself.

Hamza Hassan, 22, Elays Corner President, Pharmacy Student

“An issue that is important to me is Knife Crime. It’s becoming so common. Every other day a young person is stabbed to death. This is a serious issue especially in South London, where I grew up. I hear about knife crime so often that I’ve almost become immune to the news, as if it’s just another tragedy that’ll be forgotten by tomorrow.

Even though it doesn’t affect me on a personal level, there are endless fatalities that could have been avoided had we educated people on their implications.

In Elays Corner, we discuss these issues in our films and at our events, where we raise awareness and make people understand what’s going on. We try to come up with ideas to reduce the number of knives being carried and hopefully reduce the number of fatal stabbings.’’

Nimco Warsame, 19, Elays Corner Events Manager, Physiological Sciences Student

‘’I feel that there are three things that play into my identity. I’m black, Muslim, and a woman. These are factors that have their own implications in today’s society, that can make it feel like the world is against us. I want people like me to know that we’re no different from anybody because of these factors. We are a diverse group of women. We have the right to feel empowered and to be our true selves.

Issues that matter to me are: Islamophobia and mental health. I’m keen on educating my peers about depression or anxiety, that are real issues that should be addressed, rather than ignored.

The purpose of Elays Corner is to give young people a platform for their voices to be heard. We plan events where they can come together and engage in conversations that matter. Every time we have an Elays event we want people to leave with knowledge, to leave feeling empowered. We want everyone to feel like their voice has been heard.”

At Elays Corner, we’ve discussed everything from sexism, mental health, hate speech and education, which are just a few of the issues that need to be handled if we want a better future for young people.

That’s the thing, isn’t it? The way the youth will build peace on International Youth Day – or any day, for that matter –  is by doing what we’re doing at Elays and encouraging on social media: talking to each other. It might not seem like a big deal, but trust us, conversations lead to understanding, and understanding leads to communities that get along with one another.

It’s why we’re hosting another Elays Corner tonight (August 11). So come along to talk about something you love or something that’s bugging you, or come along just to listen.

As long as you haven’t already made plans for Play in the Sand Day, that is.