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Youth Summit Hopes to Inspire Future Change-Makers
Ireland’s former Irish UN Youth delegate, a Ghanaian business guru and activists who use dance to bring cultural awareness to Irish people are just some of the speakers at a virtual summit this week. The event aims to inspire and motivate young people to work towards a better future for our planet and the people living in it.
Agents of Change, organised by the Irish humanitarian agency Concern Worldwide, takes place on Friday (April 23) and is aimed at secondary school students. Over 3,600 students and teachers have already registered for the event which will take place online because of COVID restrictions, with students not just from Ireland but also Malawi, Ghana, UK and the USA also signed up.
Karen Aguiar and Alessandra Azevedo, originally from Brazil, run Go Dance for Change, a collective who use the power of dance to unite people, promote health and bring about meaningful social change. Since forming in 2017 they’ve performed at festivals around Ireland and danced with Denise Chaila, Choice Music Prize winner.
“It’s about getting a community together, experiencing different styles of music from other countries, and meeting other people. It’s for fun, you’re not going to sit people down and say ‘now we’re going to talk about culture’, but we teach a little bit about where the culture of the dance and steps comes from; who were these people, what were their struggles,” explained Karen.
“It’s interesting when you can say, ‘ you know this dance step, it was created by people who were kidnapped from Africa brought to South America, they worked in the plantations and they made this stomp to create music which allowed them to carry on their work, under horrific circumstances, as a resistance.’”
“The most beautiful thing about Go Dance for Change is that it’s a safe space for you to connect, to integrate, to get to know a different culture. Since being involved I’ve learned so much about my own history, as an Afro-Brazilian. It just wasn’t something I was taught about in school in Brazil,” said Alessandra.
Among the other speakers at the event is Dubliner Valery Molay, one of Ireland’s two UN Youth delegates from 2019 to 2020 and currently Climate Justice Officer with the National Youth Council of Ireland. Her passion for tackling inequalities has inspired her to work in climate and racial justice. Valery previously sat on the expert group on membership, diversity and inclusion for the European Youth Forum and was the chairperson of the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR).
Joining the summit from Ghana will be Shorshor Burgesson, a fashion designer who uses her clothes to tell positive African stories and mentor other young business owners seeking technical and entrepreneurial support.
Head of Concern Active Citizenship, Michael Doorly will also be among the speakers. A trained post-primary teacher he believes that we are now living in a once-in-a-century time of opportunity, that we have a chance to create a ‘new normal’ that protects people, the planet and works for peace.
The hosts for Agents of Change are secondary school students Eve McGann, Patrycja Skydula, and Zara Strafford.
Eve, a student at Holy Child, Killiney, Co Dublin is passionate about climate change and the social injustices that stem from this issue. She gave a TedX talk in the Dun Laoghaire Lexicon in 2018 about the food industry and how what we eat affects the planet. She has also taken part in ECO-UNESCO’s YEA awards.
Patrycja is a transition year student in Fingal Community College. She loves to speak in public and is passionate about changing the future for the better.
Zara is a transition year student from Loreto Secondary School, Balbriggan, Co Dublin. Zara is most interested in climate change and gender inequality and hopes for a more fair and equal world one day.
More details about the speakers, hosts and the event can be found here: https://www.concern.net/schools-and-youth/agents-change-international-youth-summit
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