Chapter Spotlight: Greater Philadelphia
Youth members are critical to UNA-USA, and it is because of dedicated chapter leaders that are pioneering programs to reach America’s youth and teach them about their true potential. UNA Greater Philadelphia Chapter established their Global Leaders Program in hopes to include students in areas where schools have lost funding, teachers, and struggled with high levels of stress or violence.
Manisha Ayut, a member of the UNA Greater Philadelphia Chapter, took on this large task with the hope of connecting global issues to what students were going through in their own local communities. With topics such as gun violence, poverty, and mental health they launched their Global Leaders Program. The middle and high school students were all a part of a community center in Greater Philadelphia.
Manisha gave the students three categories they could choose from: (1) identity and how their own identity fits in with the world around them; (2) how power is used by various organizations, and (3) how social media has influenced movements around the world. They then chose a community project to connect the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to what they were discussing. The students then discussed feasibility of the SDG, integrated involving STEM professionals to design apps, and taking a deeper dive into their own community to see what they could change.
The topics that were chosen (water and hygiene, gender parity, and reducing violence in communities) illustrate the depth of understanding young people have about what issues are prevalent in their community, and how those connect to the SDGs. It shows that these universal goals are exactly that—universal. There is something in them for everyone, and as UNA-USA chapters continue to illuminate them they will grow. Quite possibly the most important aspect of what the UNA Greater Philadelphia Chapter accomplished is highlighting accessibility. The SDGs can be complicated to understand if you’re not already surrounded by ‘diplomatic terms.’ As we continue to push for reduced inequalities it is crucial to make our work accessible to everyone. Through the Global Leaders Program, UNA Greater Philadelphia Chapter hopes to expand to students all over the Greater Philadelphia area, showing young people that their voice matters and they belong at the United Nations Association of the USA.