Do young people have a loud enough voice in modern society – or are they talked about, dismissed, ignored and generalised by everyone? Despite presumptions to the contrary, youth are not only the future but the present and they can be actively engaged for the good of the community they live in.
The Aspirations Youth Club in Nawala has over the last year, helped create space for their members to excel in talents such as debating, music and art. Interestingly, their focus, according to Nadeen Kumarasinghe also lies in corporate social responsibility, their club comprising individuals who are striving to make a difference.
Their upcoming event – a blood donation camp on March 31 is certainly timely. "Blood, we've been told, is a scarce resource that is very much-needed – both at the cancer hospital and to meet the requirements of wounded soldiers," Nadeen explains. The cancer hospital blood bank is organising the collection that would be carried out at Sri Naga Viharaya, Kotte between 9.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. It is expected that all club members and others will donate to the cause.
Another noteworthy initiative was the medical camp in Heelapiyanvala in the Kalutara District, organized a few months ago with funds raised from a beach rugby carnival. Several schools participated in the event, helping them raise funds. As for residents of the district, they were very appreciative of the event where they had access to free cancer screening and individual attention by the visiting medical practitioners. Incidentally, the club that currently has 170 members was launched in August 2006 soon after the Adyapana Exhibition sponsored by Aspirations Education, an institution that represents over 90 universities from UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Malaysia.
Students, undergraduates, master's degree holders from various disciplines between ages 17-30 are members. "It is open to everyone and there is no hierarchy as ideas take precedence," Nadeen adds. However, they have a steering committee that takes care of the co-ordination.
Since the club began in August 2006, they have organised sessions in personality development, to include leadership training – that youth may contribute effectively to society.
Young people working hard on brilliant things cannot be ignored. Through their efforts they seem to be developing a sense of social responsibility and a civic commitment that helps them view themselves as active agents in society. Above all, it demonstrates that youth, when given the opportunity, can use their talents for social good.