In August, the world celebrated International Youth Day, a day during which we appreciate all of the hardworking, dedicated, and talented young individuals across the globe. I get so excited by the idea of youth leadership. I truly believe this generation of youth is different. We are connected in unprecedented ways through technology and by fostering connections and friendships early in life we can limit divisions and future conflicts. We have an underlying basis of understanding that has not existed before.
This year, International Youth Day had a special focus on safe spaces. Safe spaces are places where youth can come together, engage in activities related to their diverse needs and interests, participate in decision making processes and freely express themselves. I was particularly moved by this theme as I recognize what a large role safe spaces play in helping me stay positive.
One of my safe spaces for the past three years has been the wonderful choir room at my school. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy school, but as a high school student it is not always easy to be your authentic self. There is tons of pressure to be perfect socially and academically. I know that when I enter the choir room, I can leave those feelings at the door. Through singing with my peers, my heart is liberated from the stress of living and I can feel free. Outside of class, I have a sizeable group of friends whom I have bonded with through music. When I see them pass me in the halls I get the same safe feeling – a feeling of belonging to a special community that understands me.
Safe spaces are necessary for everyone, and RUFC hopes to provide those safe spaces to children in need, whether it be through clubs or for one week every year during camp. We also aim to equip students with the tools and knowledge they need to create their own safe spaces at school and at home. We also create safe spaces where youth from all over the world can come together and share and connect. Through these safe spaces, I believe our communities and future leaders can make great strides towards peace and understanding.
PS. My choir experience at La Canada High School is truly extraordinary. Click HERE to see powerful video of my Choir Director, Dr. Jeff Brookey, and you will understand why!
Ray Wipfli, RUFC founder, shares his thoughts.