mentoring at student hackathon

Today, July 15, is World Youth Skills Day. The United Nations declared this day as an annual marker to inspire better socio-economic conditions for the youth of the world and addressing the life-affecting (and often life-diminishing) challenges of unemployment and under employment.

One in five youths, or 125 million, are working at jobs but still live in extreme poverty, surviving on LESS THAN US$1 per day. When entire families live in similar situations, and there is dependence on each able-bodied worker to help support the family for survival, finding ways to improve the skills, and thus better the jobs, of young people leads to incredible benefits. With a skills upgrade, poverty goes down, health and vitality rise, self-esteem grows, family and community harmony increases...everybody wins. While, in broad generalities, this issue is most urgent in developing countries, it would be a mistake to assume it is not also vitally important close to home. Skills development and education open doors in any community.

Is there a program where you could volunteer your time mentoring youth? You needn't be an expert or industry leader. Think of what it could mean for a young person to learn to read and write who previously couldn't. Learning to cook and food preparation. Discovering how to sew. Gaining skills with tools and construction projects. Electronics/rewiring, plumbing, painting. Teaching others. Public speaking. Financial management. Investing. Customer service. Driving. Gardening/planting/growing food. Cleaning house skills. Organizing. Computer skills. Programming. Typing. Laundry. Balancing a bank account. Planning an event/party/potluck. Making change/handling money from others. Shopping for food or clothes. How many of these are you expert at yet barely think of on a daily basis because you are simply so used to doing it all? Have you already had to teach your growing children some of these "life skills"?

Your skills are valuable, and your generosity with them can make a profound difference.

Share your stuff! 

Here is a list of resources from the U.N. about getting involved with training youth.

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About The Author

Andrew Mersmann's picture

Andrew is the author of Frommer's global guide to volunteer vacations, "500 Places Where You Can Make a Difference" (Gold Medal Winner from Society of American Travel Writers: Best Guide Book 2010). He spent more than a decade on the editorial team of PASSPORT Magazine. He has volunteered and led teams on service projects around the world, and is honored to be on the boards of directors for the Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation (AARBF.org) and Mentor Artists Playwrights Project (mentorartists.org). Mersmann has been a featured speaker, interview guest, or moderator on several travel talks, from the New York Times Travel Show, Smithsonian Associates, and the 92nd Street Y-TriBeCa to Oprah and Friends, Animal House, and The Focus Group on satellite radio as well as on NY1 television. Past participant at the Clinton Global Initiative and judge for Condé Nast World Changers Conference, he blogs about volunteering and service travel at www.ChangeByDoing.com. As part of the evox television team, he is dedicated to audience engagement, so if you're not engaged, he needs to be thumped on the head (gently)...or at least told (nicely). Twitter: /ChangeByDoing

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