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“Believing in the power of youth leadership”
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“Believing in the power of youth leadership”

Navodinee Wickramanayake picZurich hosted a summit for young leaders, among them Navodinee Wickramanayake, 22, a Correspondent from Sri Lanka, who found inspiration in the kinds of change being led by youth. 

Each year, young leaders from across the world travel to various cities to attend The Global Changemakers Youth Summit, which is an incredible experience for young activists, advocates and social entrepreneurs to network, learn and be inspired by each other.

This year’s youth summit was organised by the Global Changemarkers, a Swiss based NGO, with the patronage of the Mercator Foundation. It featured guest appearances by WWF, Greenpeace and the UBS Optimus Foundation, among others. Since its creation in 2007, the NGO has supported 280 successful youth-led projects in 128 countries, benefiting over four million people.

This year I was fortunate enough to join 60 participants selected out of an incredible 4,000 applications to represent Sri Lanka at the week long summit held in Zurich, Switzerland from 25 – 29 July, 2016.

The summit was a well balanced combination of skills training and intensive networking, both with the participants of the summit as well as the peer facilitators, guest speakers, international delegates and organisers. It was a pleasantly overwhelming exposure to inspiration and passion and a gentle reminder of the power of the youth of today and the responsibility we have to ourselves to make positive change both within us and our surroundings.

Some of the most inspirational stories I’ve heard from the summit were of Ellen Chilemba, a peer facilitator,  who founded a community-based organisation that gives microloans to women in Malawi at just 17 years, and was honoured by Forbes magazine as one of  “Africa’s 30 under 30” in 2015.

Christine Leu, a fellow participant, came from a background in packaging and ended up living a zero waste lifestyle while encouraging others to try to go “packageless” through social media and conducting seminars.

Asante decided to solve the inaccessibility of math textbooks to children in parts of Malawi by writing and publishing his own low cost textbook, and was recognised for his work when he became a Queen’s Young Leader Award recipient.

These are just some of the many incredible sources of inspiration I came across while spending my time at the GCM Summit. Global Changemakers understands the potential of the today’s youth, who make up a large portion of our population. It strives to empower this resource to ensure continuous sustainable growth in all aspects of society including environment, education, healthcare and policy building.

I am extremely honoured to be a part of this amazing network and further my work with regards to using Demarketing techniques to create environmental sustainability, and tackling coloursim and the lack of representation of darker skin toned women in Sri Lankan mass media.

If you are interested in joining this incredible family, keep an eye out for some for upcoming projects as well as find us on social media at #WeAreGCM to find out how you can get involved.

Photo Credits: May- Thu Diserens, Official Photographer for GCMYS 2016.

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About me: I am a Blogger for the United Nations Development Program Sri Lanka, a leader at the Global Education Project and currently obtaining an undergraduate degree on a full scholarship at Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University, Japan.

I’ve been actively involved in projects that focus on youth empowerment and cultural appreciation and am passionate about creating sustainable and positive change. I hope to join an impactful organisation and help make a difference from grass roots levels.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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