Youth month is a time to recognise, acknowledge and celebrate young people who made their mark and took a stand for their rights. It is this generation of young people that taught me that courage is required to follow through even in the face of uncertainty or the presence of fear.

Ultimately, the power of youth is the shared wealth of the entire world. The faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present and our future. Society can only function best by harnessing the power, idealism, enthusiasm, and courage of young people. Hence, participating in youth-serving organisations is vital in reaffirming my ongoing commitment to youth development and empowerment.

My ongoing interest in youth development and empowerment programs was sparked by my curiosity in caring for and contributing to communities, constantly questioning the contribution that I can make to help young people become more confident individuals, displaying competence in academic, social and vocational areas. I acknowledge that youth development is a process where young people gain the ability and authority to make informed decisions and implement change in their own lives as well as the lives of others. For me personally, there is a great joy in helping young people develop skills and attributes that enable real change in their communities. In my role as Country Director of the International Youth Foundations (IYF) in South Africa, my focus remains on contributing to transforming the lives of young people by building skills, assets, and competencies; to foster healthy relationships, strengthen the environment and transform systems.

Essentially, I choose to prioritise programming that is designed to engage youth and meet their developmental needs. This cannot be done without key partnerships though, so one of my strategic focusses is maintaining ongoing relationships with key stakeholders, helping us to drive results.

Leveraging my corporate and private sector background together with skills gained in the public sector, I have harnessed the ability to guide youth in becoming confident, compassionate leaders with a sense of justice. The role of youth is a vital one as it is youth that will take the lead to renew and refresh the current status of our society, whether through leadership, innovations or advancement in education and technology. When young people are empowered, they become capable and collaborative contributors who are excited to explore their impact on the world around them. Empowering, strengthening and including young people in the work environment will result in a better society, a better country and a better world.

Whatever direction young people take, whatever careers and occupations they follow, a good education unquestionably makes them better equipped for life. Better informed. Better prepared. Better protected.