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From left, WHS Spanish Instructor Cass Didier, and WHS students Riley Harrell, Katie Pace, and Lexis Stuchlik, pose in the General Assembly Hall of the United Nations in New York City. All were selected as Nebraska's only representatives in the 2017 U.N. Winter Youth Assembly, a forum of 700 youth from over 70 countries convened to help find solutions to global problems.

Harrell, Pace & Stuchlik attend 2017 United Nations Youth Assembly

Wahoo's own serve as Nebraska's only representatives in global collaboration to develop solutions to world crises

On a global front, some of our most successful world leaders are also life-long learners. They realize that neither they nor their adult peers always have the answers. That being the case, they not only realize the value of the youth perspective, but they also foster opportunities to solicit those perspectives. Since 2004, the United Nations has offered such an opportunity with its annual youth assemblies.

As its members continue their work of finding ways to improve the quality of life of the world's less-fortunate populations, the UN continues to prove that today's youth have a place at the discussion table.

The UN hosted its 2017 Winter Youth Assembly at its Headquarters in New York City last week, Feb. 1-3.

This year, four of Wahoo's finest were among the participants, which included over 1,000 young leaders and professionals from across the globe!

In late November, Wahoo High School’s Riley Harrell (jr.), Katie Pace (jr.), Lexis Stuchlik (sr.) and Spanish Teacher Cass Didier were notified of their acceptance to attend this year's UN Youth Assembly!

The assembly’s purpose is to increase understanding and to promote the implementation of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 amongst youth worldwide. The 17 SDGs include global issues such as eradicating poverty and hunger, improving access to education, and advocating for gender equality.

In all over 700 youths from 70 countries were in attendance. The foursome from WHS served as Nebraska's only representatives.

Throughout the three-day conference, Harrell, Pace, Stuchlik and Didier listened to numerous panel discussions from global leaders on the many ongoing movements to reach the UN’s 17 SDGs of 2030, and the part youth can play in ensuring their success.

All four agree that the experience to discuss such issues with the perspective of youth from around the world was truly surreal, especially doing so in the legendary UN General Assembly Hall.

Mrs. Didier summed up her thoughts on the experience:

"This was another successful youth summit! Again, I’m extremely grateful for the support of the administration and the community for 1) allowing me to attend, and 2) continuing to support global education and the importance of being a global citizen.

"Our students were among the youngest delegates in attendance, which, although was quite intimidating at times, was also very impressive. Having a strong passion for our world at their age is admirable. I hope to see more interest in promoting a more peaceful world within high school students (part of my 'Action Plan' discussed later). Many of their peers were already well versed in the UN’s SDGs—our students were introduced to them. Several delegates were majoring or had already majored in a field directly related to one or more of the SDGs of 2030. I suspect our students will do the same. Being surrounded by such inspiring, passionate youths helped our students elevate their energy for the betterment of our world. They are ready to take action in regards to climate change, access to education, gender equality and responsible consumption/production in our community.

"All delegates were asked to create 'Action Plans' to take back to our respective communities. During this session I was able to put on my teacher AND student hat. I created my own action plan, alongside the girls, who were excitingly creating their own. We were in the zone helping each other think through our plans. I am so proud of their work! They fuel me :-)

"I’m also excited for the girls to implement their plans. We hope to disclose more about our plans as soon as we secure our timelines. Stay tuned, Wahoo!"

Our students concurred:

“The UN Youth Assembly in New York was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience," commented Stuchlik. "I was able to meet other young people from around the world and talk about problems that will affect all of of us like quality education, poverty and climate change. Discussing these issues with people from around the world truly gave me a new perspective as to what being a global citizen means.”

“One thing I learned was how to incorporate the UN goals into my community," Harrell added. "I think anyone who has a real passion to change the world should go to this conference, because it gives you opportunities to meet new people and learn how people are already working to change their community."

“The UN was an extraordinary experience," said Pace. "It was interesting to meet people from all over the world, and to hear their thoughts and opinions on important matters. I even got to speak to someone from Argentina in Spanish! I wish I could do it all over again, and I can’t wait to use what I learned to make a difference.”

This is the second consecutive year that WHS students have been selected to attend this assembly. Last year, Tyler Timm and Ryan Volin participated, along with Mrs. Didier. Both years, our students were the only representatives from Nebraska.

Congratulations girls on achieving this impressive honor, and thank you Ms. Didier for working hard to promote global education, and student involvement on the international stage.

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The goals of the Youth Assembly:

  1. Provide access to and information about the work, successes and current challenges of the United Nations;
  2. Promote increased youth participation in UN programs, agencies and NGO affiliates;
  3. Strengthen the role of youth in implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals;
  4. Connect committed youth with opportunities, mentors, colleagues, and new associates;
  5. Recognize the artistic and diplomatic efforts of young people already involved in development and humanitarian initiatives; and
  6. Promote renewal of a commitment to serve and respect this most important international institution.

17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

  1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere.
  2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.
  3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.
  4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
  5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
  6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
  7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
  8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
  9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.
  10. Reduce inequality within and among countries.
  11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
  12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns.
  13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
  14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development.
  15. Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.
  16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
  17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.

Source: YA@UN website, http://www.youthassembly.nyc/

Harrell, Pace & Stuchlik attend 2017 United Nations Youth Assembly

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