This weekend marks the 24th annual Global Youth Service Day. In 100 countries, across six continents, young people between the ages of 5 and 25 will participate in their communities, leading grassroots projects in health, education, service, human rights, and the environment. In the past year, young people have played an unprecedented role in transforming their realities -- unseating repressive regimes, championing democracy, and innovating in technology, science, and business.
The United States wants to see the story of youth empowerment told for years to come. That's why, to tap the potential of this remarkable generation, we've built Embassy Youth Councils in nearly 40 countries. Each council convenes a cross-section of local young people on a regular basis to discuss shared challenges -- developing new policies and initiatives that reflect their concerns and ideas. In Nepal, for example, we've brought together more than 70 youth advisors, from tea plantation workers to college students. In Latvia, two young Council members designed an innovative e-petition system allowing people a new level of participation in their country's policy process. And around the world, U.S. Embassies have found some of their greatest allies in young people -- partnering with them on community service projects from cleaning up beaches to planting trees to building homes for families in need.
Young people also continue to lead as part of a network of U.S. alumni with whom we partner and support. In Benin, alumni of our International Visitor Leadership Program are leading a ten-day "healthy month" campaign in celebration of Global Youth Service Day from April 17-27, 2012. Their goal is to encourage young Beninese citizens in particular and the whole Beninese population in general to be environmentally conscious. In the Kyrgyz Republic, alumni of our Tech Age Girls network are reaching out in multiple ways to celebrate Global Youth Service Day. One alumna is teaching senior citizens computer skills, while another has developed a project entitled "We Draw Together," which will provide orphans between the ages of 8-13 with art lessons and an exhibition of their work. And in Russia, Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) alumni are coming together to help clean and renovate "Invatour," an NGO that advocates for people with special needs, creates opportunities for them, and promotes an active lifestyle.
Young people are mobilizing real action and producing real results for communities around the world -- every day, all year long. On this Global Youth Service Day, tell us what you are you doing in your community. Share your projects with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. To find out more about Global Youth Service Day, please visit www.gysd.org.