The United Nations marked the 12th of August as a day to celebrate youth in 1999. It was introduced to recognize the contributions of young people to peace efforts around the globe. Every year, there is a theme that accompanies the celebrations and this year, it is “Safe Spaces”. Youth should be allowed to come together in spaces that are safe, inclusive and welcoming; away from discrimination, injustice, war and other conflict. These spaces should allow youth to express themselves freely without prejudice or intimidation. Safe spaces encourage youth to contribute to peace, friendship and culture.
Here in Singapore, there are many spaces for youth to gather and grow. Singapore has invested a lot of money in safe spaces for our youth. *Scape, in Orchard Road, is one such venue. Complete with a skatepark and platforms for music, exhibitions, interactive media and showcases, *Scape is the perfect place for Singaporean youth to congregate and develop their talents. They even have a talent development programme that takes place during a festival called Shine, where youth can hone their skills in many different areas. Other programmes like the *Scape Invasion Tour, brings young musicians to schools in hopes of inspiring the younger generation.
The government also launched a 4,000 square foot youth co-working space here earlier this year in order for youth to come together and work on their ideas. This space hopes to encourage youth to venture out into entrepreneurship ideas to benefit society.
Many youths around the world though are not as fortunate as we are in Singapore. Some youth as young as 15 years old, spend their early days not in safe spaces, but in war torn areas, serving in the military. Others spend their growing up years behind refugee barricades. Many other youth in our surrounding countries spend their days slaving away in fields and farms.
We are lucky to have our best years spent learning, thriving and enjoying life in the “safe space” we call Singapore. Celebrate your youth! It won’t last forever. Happy youth day!