On Monday, I had the pleasure of attending the official launch of the World Youth Organization (WYO) at the Houses of Parliament, Portcullis House. I first learnt about the WYO through Twitter (just like many of the individuals at the launch) and I was very interested to learn more about their journey and future plans.
“The World Youth Organization is a network of individuals and organisations committed to improving the lives and prospects of young people (13-25) across the world.” Although the journey towards the WYO begun in 2013, it was founded in 2014 to help young people around the world and this year it finally became an official charity.
Co-founder and CEO of WYO, Kieran Goodwin told us that “only last week we received the all clear from the charity commission”, sharing that they had applied for charity status three times. However, they never gave up — “This has taken many months of hard work, perseverance and determination,” he said.
The grit and determination shown by Kieran and his team amazes and inspires me, especially as Kieran is only 17-years-old and he started the organisation with a group of his friends. I was also impressed to learn that the charity is run by 75% under 25-year-olds.
The WYO is an organisation that can make a huge impact, as it has been formed for the young by the young, which will give them a greater understanding of the issues affecting young people, as well as making them more relatable.
There are three main focus areas for the WYO: Advocacy, Education and Youth Empowerment. Ayath Ullah, Chair of Trustees says, “We believe if you don’t invest in young people today, you can’t create leaders of tomorrow,” which effectively sums up the WYO’s values.
The WYO was founded by young people, but one of the best things about the charity is that they collaborate with a range of young people, giving them the opportunity to use their skills and show the great things they can do.
Teenager, Alex Choi, created the WYO app, which include a variety of features. I was again surprised, as I learned that he was CEO and founder of Arlix Technologies, which is a company run by teenagers all over the world who enjoy coding. Alex said: “As a company, we want to offer young people opportunities.”
The WYO advert was also directed by a teenager, 19-year-old Finn Sims. Like me, Finn heard of Kieran through Twitter, which later led to him filming the advert in seven locations, over six and a half days. Describing himself as “a little bit new to the filmmaking scene”, Finn’s experience of filming the WYO advert was “one of the best weeks I’ve ever had as a filmmaker and 19-year-old teenager”. He later added, “The World Youth Organization has given me an experience I’ll never forget.”
We also heard from Richard Burgon MP, who provided us with some worrying statistics relating to young people in the UK. He started by saying, “Some people say that young people have it very easy. I just don’t agree whatsoever,” and I have to say that I agree with him. Nevertheless, the Labour MP also said, “The truth is you can make a big difference”, and he finished his speech on a positive note: “I look forward to being inspired… by what you do.”
Hearing first-hand about the work and achievements of these amazing young people inspired me to keep on persevering with my endeavours. I wish that I had possessed the courage, knowledge and determination to do something great like they’ve done when I was their age, but you can’t change the past.
The thought that stuck with me most though, was that there are so many young individuals doing great things and quietly changing the world, but we’re missing out because we don’t hear about it. There needs to be more media reports and news stories about young people starting businesses, charities and making inspirational adverts, rather than the constant bombardment of stabbings, unemployment figures and anti-social behaviour.
I can’t wait to see what comes from the WYO and I’m looking forward to seeing how they will change the world — maybe we’ll even get the chance to work together some day. So in the words of Kieran Goodwin, “Here’s to the future of the World Youth Organization.”