Discovering Youth-Led Solutions to Global Issues

Global Youth VoicesApril 8, 2024Crisis & ChangeFeatures

Why is it that we take solace in sacrificing a part of ourselves in the war against hardship? Why is it that we make the definitive step outside our blissful bubbles of ignorance to face the grim reality of global issues?

Certainly, it’s because of human values like empathy, altruism, and resilience. More so, it’s that being human alongside others, all tightly packed on this tiny planet of ours, is a catalyst for our intrinsic desire to enact change.

Today at KidSpirit, we can only touch the surface of the complexity which dwells within these vast issues. Yet although we may be a mere subset of the beautiful chorus of young voices calling for change around the world, we represent a spark in the flame that we should all follow towards a future that we should all seek. In March, a group of avid KidSpirit writers and leaders came together to discuss global issues with empathy, peace, and the shared value of being human.

Peace and Conflict Resolution

Peace is one of the most important priorities of our world today, this is because of the excessive amount of different ideologies, worldviews, and cultures that face each other and cause a variety of conflicts that can negatively impact people daily. All these problems and conflicts need innovative and collaborative approaches for resolutions. Young people are an extremely essential part of creating a peaceful world. With their engaging fresh minds and the ability to see the world in a completely different way, they can raise tolerance, create solutions and provide understanding and cooperation when resolving conflicts. Who, if not young people, have lots of energy, ambitious and modern-thinking minds and are catalysts for building a peaceful world?

A Realistic Approach
To begin with, some methods for resolution simply do not work now. We have to acknowledge that fortunately, or unfortunately, most conflicts need to be resolved differently in comparison to how they were before. Because of constant change, which happens faster year after year, we have new types of conflicts that can no longer be solved by conventional methods. We need fresh, modern perspectives. Young people, unburdened by historical prejudices, can suggest more open-minded and adaptable methods to deal with conflict. Moreover, they have a great ability to engage with others.

The Abilities of the Younger Generation
One of the best and most impactful features youth can use is social media. Our reality now allows young people to find peers from all around the world without crossing geographical boundaries or making any special effort. Additionally, they can search for specific types of people with the same worldview, mindset and ideas, and they can group and share important information while completely engaging in the process as full participants. Furthermore, they can evolve and raise awareness about different types of conflicts and develop the skill of creating solutions.

The Power of Education
Another way for youth to make a positive impact is through educational initiatives, which play a big role in developing the young peoples' worldview and improving critical thinking. Adding such an initiative in the school curriculum would be powerful for their further development. Schools should not only teach young people how to create peace and find resolutions, but also communication skills which are necessary for making compromises, reducing stress, and building internal strength. Taking part in these types of initiatives would help youth to deeply understand the causes of conflicts, teach them creative ways of resolution, and most importantly give them a chance to have a voice, to express their ideas, and to show themselves.

Young people play a transformative role in change and solving problems in society. With their digital skills, creative ideas, and open-minded mentality, they are able to create important, exclusive feats that lead our world forward. Creating peace is a big responsibility, so all generations have to appreciate each other and give a chance to show up, and we will create a beautiful, comfortable and happy world around us.

Access to Education

In the United States every child is entitled to free and equal education, via our Public Education system. This is, generally, regarded as a good thing, and something for us Americans to be proud of. However, this promise of “equal,” education, is not always fulfilled. The reasons why are nuanced and layered, but the themes presented throughout involve wealth inequality and race-based discrimination.

Though Brown v. Board of Education stated that segregating children in public schools based on race was unconstitutional, many schools today remain de facto segregated. Once segregation in public schools became illegal, many white parents in the South moved their children into private schools in response. This allowed education, not in law but in practice, to remain segregated. Another issue that arose was “white flight,” which allowed white parents to ensure that their children would never be educated among minorities by moving to the suburbs. Since the majority of people moving to the suburbs were white middle class families, school districts in those areas became almost entirely white. It is important to mention that race-based and wealth-based inequality went hand in hand. Black students tended to be lower in social standing whilst white students were higher in social standing. This had the consequence of wealth and resources being concentrated in majority white schools, while schools with a predominantly non-white student body lacked the resources they needed to properly educate their students. This is not to say no one has tried to fight these challenges. Cross district busing—the practice of busing white kids to black schools and black kids to white schools—though no longer in use, succeeded in bringing down some racial divides in schooling.

Many parents nowadays state that they support integration with different ethnicities, even across political platforms. Young people in the United states can help desegregate our schools too. They can do this in a plurality of ways. For one, kids can simply ask their parents to vote for bills proposed by lawmakers that aim to defeat this issue. If you have more time on your hands, you can write letters to your state and national representatives in government. The email addresses of all those in positions of power are public, and are meant to be used as a mechanism to connect them to what the people want. Another thing you could do is organize with like minded individuals to protest the ongoing segregation of our schools. An inspiration to look to is Jonathan Kozol, who has been fighting inequality in schools since 1965. Jonathan has written numerous books and participated in protests to help bring attention to this issue. His work has won him numerous awards, and is a testament to what can be done, reminding us that it is possible. Despite significant change, de facto segregation of education remains an impediment in the fight for equal access to education for all, and will continue to be an obstacle until rectified.

Human Rights

Human rights are moral rights that every person in the world has simply because they are human. They are a complex of natural and inviolable freedoms and legal rights that are necessary for human existence in a civilized society. Law acts as a measure of freedom, and it reconciles the freedom of an individual with the freedom of other members of society, all while observing the principle of equality.

Human rights are grounded on two fundamental values: the first is human dignity and the second is equality. Human rights and freedoms constitute the highest social value, and it is to their provision and the most complete implementation in public life that the state should strive in legal matters. Guaranteeing human rights and freedoms is the main duty of the state, and the state is responsible to people and society for its activities.

Many cases can be cited when the discrepancy between the law and departmental instructions prevents citizens from exercising their rights. Looking at some of these situations raises the question of what it means that all people, no matter what particular group they belong to, should have equal rights. Many do not understand the meaning of this phrase, and they judge others and the situations they are in, purely from their own perspective.

We rarely talk about the discrimination of some groups, we do not mention their representatives who are actively under pressure from others. As an example - the problems of non-European / North American countries with underdeveloped economies are rarely voiced in the media, and their problems are ignored. Many such countries suffer from mass starvation and water shortages, which few will start addressing until the crisis reaches the developed world. When we talk about humanism and put the rights of every person as the highest priority, then we have to follow this rhetoric, so every person must have basic rights, not to mention how important the equality in these rights among people is.

Many argue for such treatment by the fact that there is a difference between "equality" and "justice". The terms "justice" and "equality" are similar but not identical in meaning. In addition, in the context of human rights, these concepts have a starkly different meaning. A right is not something material, it is not something that can be given in a certain amount depending on some features or characteristics of people, because the key word in this phrase "human" means that these are rights that everyone should have, regardless of which group they belong to. In such questions as the one of humanism, and the importance of human lives, one can say that such thinking is too utopian and unattainable, and it is impossible to make all people happy. However, unless we at least take steps in the direction of the ideal, progress stalls, and we are left with injustice and inequality running rampant.

It’s not easy for young people to be heard when they want to address human rights issues, so the media can sometimes be a helpful tool. The internet is one of the means in achieving this goal, since people often talk about local problems on social media and individuals can discuss the importance of human rights among their friends and family to spread awareness. In addition, we can all do research on this topic, donate to related organizations, and connect to human rights movements. Some people have founded specific organizations that promote human rights on a whole new level, with the possibility of addressing the government about the issue. It is a long and exhausting way to do it, but it’s worth doing it.

Mental Health

The Mental Health Crisis
When describing the global mental health crisis “anxiety” seems to be a very common cause for most people’s mental health struggles. Anxiety is described as a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. According to the PMC, Anxiety Disorder is the most common mental illness, and seeing as anxiety stems from a constant sense of a lack of safety, there is no question why this is the case.

Young People
Young people seem to be bearing the brunt of this epidemic. According to the WHO the fourth leading cause of death among 15 to- 29-year-olds is mental health related. The current state of the world is not the most stable but there is a way to slowly but surely build towards a safer community.

What can young people do about the global mental health crisis?

Destigmatizing Mental Health
Media has played a great part in normalizing the idea of mental health. Now, people are able to express their emotional needs and be understood and heard by the general public. Furthermore, most common mental illnesses have less shock value, and this helps more people get the help they need without shame or alienation. Regardless, discussing mental health casually is a great way for young people to help open the minds of people in their circles.

Creating Safe Spaces
Young people can contribute to solving the mental health crisis by establishing and promoting safe spaces within their communities, schools, and online platforms. By creating these spaces, youth also gain valuable experience and knowledge. These spaces encourage open conversations, provide resources, and foster a sense of belonging for individuals facing mental health challenges.

Advocating for Curriculum Changes
Advocacy is a great way to work towards any change, and youth advocacy holds a power capable of shifting the narrative. There are many things to advocate for, but advocating for mental health education is a great way to help future generations. Being educated about mental health from a young age builds resilience and provides individuals with the resources to help themselves or others struggling with mental illness.

The methods for overcoming this epidemic are available, and there are many ways for young people to participate in the process and make change on varying levels, but what is common between all these methods is that they need enthusiasm and initiative. Starting small and working step-by-step is the most realistic path towards a happier society.

Gun Violence

Gun violence has left a scarlet stain on communities globally, a bullet hole in the very fabric of our society that has rattled neighborhoods and cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent people: all catalyzed by a single metallic weapon of destruction. Yet still, every action has an equal and opposite reaction. The pushback against this barrage of violence has grown exponentially, especially among youth whose future is at the mercy of the decisions we make today.

Change is a beacon of hope that affects culture, race, ethnicity, and class, uniting us in the effort to shape the world into something that we can proudly call home. And when the issue at hand puts the lives of the younger generations in the greatest danger of all, it comes as no surprise that people will come together to enact change.

Take the “March for Our Lives” movement as a poignant example of this. The movement, which arose from the aftermath of the 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, advocates for gun control legislation. With the power of unity and collective empathy, the movement has worked to organize numerous large-scale peaceful protests, effectively pushing 250 gun safety laws to be passed. In their own words, “young people are a force to be reckoned with.” Yet they don’t fight alone: other groups like “Students Demand Action,” founded by survivors of the Parkland shooting, have also joined the fight against gun violence, echoing the same fervent desire for change.

However, cries for change have emerged elsewhere, as well. Young people of all backgrounds have taken to social media to express their opinions on the topic, as shown through analysis of hashtags woven through various posts. For example, on Instagram alone the hashtag “#endgunviolence” springs more than 200,000 results, emphasizing the overwhelming desire for gun reform washing over the US. Indeed, in some cases all it takes is a simple ‘#’ to fuel change.

Thus, the fight to end gun violence, which takes various forms from movements gathering support on social media, to nationwide protests, has aroused mass support, especially among the youth on both a national and international scale.


  • “Impact Report.” March for Our Lives. Accessed April 5, 2024.
  • Pew Research Center: Journalism & Media Staff. “Gun Control and the Media.” Pew Research Center, April 25, 2013.
  • Students Demand Action, November 3, 2023.

Climate Change

Climate change presents itself as one of the paramount challenges of our era, casting its long shadow across the globe and affecting all life upon it. In spite of this overwhelming challenge, young people have emerged as symbols of resilience and leaders of imminent change, leading the charge in advocating for solutions to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Their activism, innovation, and unwavering resolve signify a pivotal shift in addressing environmental concerns, paving the way for a more sustainable future for generations to come.

Central to the efforts of young people in combating climate change is a profound sense of urgency and accountability. Unlike preceding generations, today’s youth have been raised in a world characterized by escalating natural disasters, encroaching sea levels, and the loss of biodiversity – all exacerbated by human-induced climate change. From the global Fridays for Future movement spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, to local climate strikes orchestrated by youth-led organizations, the voices of young people resound and demand substantive change. Examples of youth-led initiatives include the Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, established by the United Nations Secretary-General. This group consists of young people from different regions who provide perspectives and solutions on climate change. They also give suggestions to the Secretary-General on how to best implement climate action priorities. Another example is the Global Youth Statement on Climate Change and COP26 Outcomes, which was signed by youth activists from over 140 countries at the United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Furthermore, young people are not merely advocating for change; they are actively driving it through innovation and entrepreneurship. Across the globe, youth-led initiatives are at the forefront of pioneering solutions to combat climate change at the grassroots level. Whether through the development of renewable energy technologies, the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices, or the implementation of eco-conscious lifestyle choices, young entrepreneurs are harnessing their creativity and ingenuity to tackle environmental challenges head-on. Young people all around the world have been actively involved in organizing neighborhood protests such as “Global Climate Strikes,” and youth climate marches, participating in community clean-up initiatives, and implementing environmental education programs in schools and communities. These efforts are crucial in raising awareness and pushing for action on climate change at local, national, and global levels.

Education also plays a pivotal role in empowering young people to address climate change. Recognizing the significance of environmental literacy, youth-led organizations and educational institutions are integrating climate change education into school curricula and extracurricular activities. By fostering awareness, critical thinking, and environmental stewardship among young learners, these initiatives equip the next generation with the knowledge and skills necessary to confront climate change with confidence and competence.

In my very own school, young individuals have initiated a project called, “The Lignum Project” aimed at making our school a more environmentally friendly institution by planting trees, creating awareness, holding talks, as well as through online campaigns, viral hashtags, and digital advocacy, which all foster a sense of solidarity in the students. Thus, social media has democratized activism, enabling young people to connect, collaborate, and organize on a global scale, transcending geographical boundaries and magnifying their impact.

In conclusion, young people stand at the vanguard of efforts to address climate change, embodying a spirit of resilience. Their innovation, and determination serve as a beacon of hope in the face of a global crisis. By empowering and championing young people in their endeavors, we can harness their energy in order to inspire future as well as present generations to build a more sustainable world for all, for they are the architects of our shared future.


The experience that each of the participants gained during the Global Youth Voices meeting was invaluable. The meeting turned out to be extremely beneficial and was filled with a lot of ambitions and ideas, which were supplemented by all participants. Discussing global issues with like-minded peers with diverse perspectives, open-mindedness, and a common wish for the betterment of our planet was a testament to how, regardless of our ethnic and cultural differences, our mutual love for humanity's progression would always prevail. We were able to not only delve deeply into the issues at hand but were able to propose solutions for them as representatives of youth today. We shared our experiences, learned new information, and were deeply engaged and focused during the conversation.

Overall, the meeting was a stimulating experience as we all reached common solutions, albeit through differing opinions about some of the world's most pressing issues. On issues such as climate change, gun violence, mental health, peace and conflict resolution, human rights, and access to education, our solutions were clear and precise: the need for awareness, especially through the responsible use of social media is, and will continue to be, imperative. It is essential that young people recognise the dire nature of the issues at hand. For as John Lewis said, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”