As we mark the joint birthday of our Founders today, we celebrate everything that Guiding and Scouting stands for across the world – fun, friendship and giving young people the skills, attitudes and opportunities that can change themselves, their community and our world.
It is a fitting moment to look back on the last 12 months and reflect on how major global events have impacted the lives of young people and what their response says about their values and attitudes that will shape our world’s future.
Since we last came together to celebrate World Thinking Day and Founder‘s Day in 2016, major global events have continued to disproportionately impact the lives of young people everywhere.
Deadly conflicts cast a dark shadow over our world’s humanity and major terror attacks are still spreading fear across the world. Millions are missing out on their education and more than half of the world’s refugee population fleeing from conflict are made up of boys and girls under 18. Future employment and economic prosperity prospects are limited and the threat of climate change looms large.
Political shifts have led some to feel that division and intolerance are gaining ground in societies across the world, and that voices of young people are being lost. Significantly, statistics show us that the strong majority of 18 to 24-year-olds do not support these significant decisions which will shape their future and impact their lives and the lives of their children.
Those leaders who have been elected to represent the voices of everyone – young as well as old – have arguably never been more out of step with the views, hope and aspirations of the younger generation.
For those of us involved in Guiding and Scouting, it is an important reminder as to why our Movements and the values and beliefs we hold strongly matter more than ever.
Over the last year, we have been privileged to meet with and hear from countless young people from across the globe; young people who are telling us how important Scouting and Guiding are in creating the space they need to come together, to share, to learn, to understand and to grow. These young people, who are committed to building a shared future together, are leading and contributing to extraordinary change in creating a better world.
We are united in our absolute belief in the importance of equipping young people with the education, the experiences, the skills and the empathy to understand the world from the perspective of others, to make informed choices and to take action to create the world that they want to live in.
Our members across the world are demonstrating through their actions that they want to see a more tolerant, inclusive society that accepts and welcomes people from all different walks of life. A world that respects and protects the planet that we live on and one where everyone has equal access to education, health care, and basic human rights.
We must acknowledge the growing divide between the world young people want to live in and the one they are being given, and recognise the vital role we play connecting our millions of members worldwide to help strengthen their voice, influence those who carry the responsibility for making decisions and achieve real and sustainable change.
So as you celebrate with your friends near and far today, be proud of what we have achieved together over the past year. And be more determined than ever to inspire and give a voice to young people everywhere – the world has never needed that more.
Nicola Grinstead (Chair WAGGGS) & João Armando Gonçalves (Chair WOSM)