Shaping tomorrow together: Adolescents and youth play a key role in upcoming Wellbeing Summit

By Global Fund for Children | November 28, 2023 | Africa & The Middle East | Freedom from Violence & Exploitation, Gender Equity, Youth Empowerment

Global Fund for Children and Tostan are co-creating a regional wellbeing summit in Senegal focused on issues facing adolescents and youth. In this blog post, some of the young people who helped plan the summit reflect on their experiences and on what wellbeing means to them.

Africa is home to the world’s youngest population, a demographic rich in potential and promise. Yet, amidst this vibrant youthfulness, numerous challenges loom over their overall wellbeing. The upcoming African Regional Wellbeing Summit Dakar – Thiès, hosted by Tostan and generously supported by diverse funders, including Global Fund for Children, adopts a pioneering and inclusive approach by centering adolescents and youth in the planning process, providing a platform to amplify their voices before, during, and after the summit. This blog captures the unique perspectives, hopes, and expectations of adolescents and youth for the upcoming summit, which will take place in Thies, Senegal, from November 29 to December 1, 2023.

Augusta Kassigbie, 16, Children’s Forum Network (CFN) – Kenema Branch, Sierra Leone

“Wellbeing for adolescents and youth refers to their overall health and happiness, including physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. It also encompasses their ability to develop positive relationships, engage in meaningful activities, and fulfill their potential. I am happy with the participation of adolescents and youth in the preparation for the summit. It is important for young people to have a voice in shaping the discussions and decisions that will impact their future. Their unique perspectives and ideas can contribute to more holistic and effective solutions in the society. I believe that young people have the potential of bringing positive change and I am confident that after the summit, we will be in the best capacity to create change in our different communities.”

A young person advocating during the West Africa Adolescent Girls Summit. © GFC
Hannah Smith, 18, Women Against Violence and Exploitation in Society (WAVES), Sierra Leone

“For me, the wellbeing for adolescents and youth refers to their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. Young people need attention, reliability, and financial support in order to live a healthy life and have a healthy relationship among their peers. We, as young people, are faced with different challenges hindering our wellbeing. The organizers’ decision to involve us in the summit’s preparation is pivotal because it empowers us to contribute meaningfully and paves the way for finding solutions to the challenges we encounter.”

Musulyn Diamond Johnson, 22, Community Healthcare Initiative (CHI), Liberia

“Wellbeing for adolescents and youths entails that they have the support, confidence, and resources that enable them to secure healthy relationships and realize their full potential and rights. I feel that involving young people in the planning process of the summit helps develop a strong sense of wellbeing in the young people. The feeling of being included in the planning process has a great impact on their mental health. Being a champion for the meaningful participation of adolescents and youth, I do hope and believe that the summit will nurture young people in such a way that the impact will be brought back by the young people themselves in their various communities and countries at large.”

Girls participating in a workshop at the West Africa Adolescent Girls Summit. © GFC
Favour Baindu Wassah Turay, 25, Center for Advocacy and Sustainable Empowerment (CASE SALONE), Sierra Leone

“Adolescents and youths are considered to be in a state of wellbeing when they have the tools, confidence, and support needed to thrive in an environment or space that is secure and healthy and [can] fully achieve their rights and potential. I believe that having a say and being involved in decision-making is both a fundamental right and a life-changing experience. For me, as a young person, taking an active part in the summit’s preparations is a learning, wonderful, and inclusive experience for me. This youth-friendly setting boosts my confidence as well.”

“I hope that the summit will improve the self-esteem and confidence of adolescents and young people to advocate for child safeguarding and protection from all sorts of abuse and violence and champion initiatives promoting gender equality.”

Ayuba Huudu, 28, Youth Leadership Council, Global Fund for Children, Ghana

“By providing a platform for individuals with appreciative minds, the summit aims to create an environment conducive to sharing experiences and insights. In my opinion, the summit is not merely a passive assembly, rather, it serves as a proactive space where participants can delve into pressing issues, exchange innovative solutions, and forge meaningful connections. The interconnectedness of these discussions with the participants’ roles in nurturing youthful engagement adds depth and relevance to the conversations.”

“Through shared experiences, collaborative efforts, and a commitment to positive change, I believe that the summit will propel the narrative of adolescent and youth wellbeing forward, laying the foundation for a brighter future for the youth in Africa.”

Find out more about the Wellbeing Summit Dakar-Thiès 2023 here.

Header photo: Participants in the West Africa Adolescent Girls Summit. © GFC

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