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UN Youth Champion experiences the plight of youth in Kenya


UN Youth Champion, Monique Coleman with UNON Acting Director General

09 May 2011 –The UN Youth Champion and American Actress of the movie, High School Musical , Monique Coleman was recently in Nairobi to engage with young people in the country and promote the International Year of Youth (IYY). The Year was launched on 12 August 2010 and will end on 11 August 2011 under the theme Dialogue and Mutual Understanding.

Ms Coleman arrived in Kenya on 1 May 2011 and had meetings with the Minister of Education, Professor Sam Ongeri, and Assistant Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, Wavinya Ndeti, who both highlighted the Government's initiatives to include the young people in the development of the countrys.

"We know the potential of the youth and encourage them to excell in everything they do, whether academic or otherwise.....After all they are the majority and will take over from us and therefore need to be equipped to deal with challenges facing the country, " Professor Qngeri said. On her part Ms Coleman expressed her passion and enthusiasm to work with as many youths in the world as she can and experience first hand the most pressing issues facing today's youth

"I believe that the youth aren't just our future, they are the present, and with 85% of youth currently residing in the developing world, it is our global responsibility to access the untapped potential.....I think ultimately youth all ove the world have the same goal and intention, which is to find purpose in their lives," she underlined. The UN Youth Champion had an opportunity tovisit UNON and meet with the Acting Director General, Achim Steiner. She then planted a tree in the complex at the nature trail.

Monique Coleman unveiling the plague of the tree she planted

Monique Coleman with some of the students of Kakuma Secondary School

In a programme organized by the Kenya Model UN, Ms. Coleman had an interactive discussion with youth from local universities and NGOs who presented both the challenges they face and solutions to the challenges. Later on the Youth Champion joined in a dance performed by a local artist.

On 5 May 2011, Ms Coleman travelled to Kakuma Refugee camp where she visited several institutions including Mogadisho Primary School, Kakuma Secondary School and Don Bosco Vocational Training Centre where she had lively discussions with the youth on various issues affecting them. Ms Coleman noted that the youth in the region lacked the capacity to realize their abilities due to lack of necessary facilities and policies that confined them to the camp." Take the talent of the youth and sell it outside these walls, the ability to contribute to society will not only empower them but also give them a sense of responsibility, " she said.

The following day the UN Youth Champion travelled to Nagis School in Lodwar where she was welcomed with songs and dance. She engaged with the students on their life experiences and aspirations before heading out to a sanitation project in Lodwar town where she met a group of women involved in making re-usable sanitary towels. She inspired the youth by narrating her life story, amidst tears, telling of the many hurdles she had to go through before getting where she is now. Monique Coleman was appointed the first ever Youth Champion by the UN on November 16 2010 to raise awareness about the challenges facing young people.

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UN Youth Champion ( second from left) with dancers at Kakuma Refugee camp

Read More on Monique Coleman AND her World Tour

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