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VietNamNews

A gathering of change-making youths

Update: October, 29/2016 - 09:00
Workers from Ford manufacturer together members of the project ’Think Playground’ work on making toys for students in Nam Trung Primary School, Nam Sách District, Hải Dương Province. - Photo courtesy of ThinkPlayground
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – The Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Conference 2016, themed “Youth and civic engagement”, was held yesterday by the US Embassy in Việt Nam and the Center for Sustainable Development Studies (CSDS).

With 70 outstanding delegates selected from 47 provinces nation-wide attending, the conference aims to connect Vietnamese youths in promoting the role of the young in community-based activities, to share experience and to enhance co-operation opportunities.

“Việt Nam has over 17,000 YSEALI members, the highest number in the ASEAN region. YSEALI – Việt Nam members are not only notable in your numbers, but also in the work you are doing in your communities. You are officially one of the very top priorities of co-operation between the United States and Việt Nam,” US Embassy Charge D’Affaires, Susan Sutton, said in her remarks at the conference.

She also assured that though YSEALI was launched by President Barack Obama, his term will ending in November will not mean the end of the programme, with the State Department pledging to keep it active.

Three notable projects with tangible impacts were presented on the opening day of the conference.

First, the ‘Think Playground’ project by architect Kim Đức and journalist Quốc Đạt aims to build more playgrounds for children in urban areas, to raise awareness of playing in children’s development, and most importantly, to push children’s playgrounds as a necessity into policy-making and urban planning.

Second, Đặng Thanh Tùng, a senior student from the Academy of Journalism and Communication, masterminded the ‘Lily on the Streets’ project – which aims to convert ‘illegitimate’ garbage dumps in residential areas into small gardens.

He shared his recipe for success, which is to co-operate with and garner support and resources from authorities and most importantly, from the community who will maintain the project themselves after volunteers leave. Due to the far-reaching effects of the project, the Hà Nội Youth Union plans to build 60 more mini-gardens in the city. HCM City also is emulating the initiative.

Finally, Nguyễn Thảo Vân, a strong woman despite weighing only 20 kilos, shared her story. Even though doctors said that with her atrophy, she only has two years to live, her spirit is unflagging and her optimism has inspired many others. She opened the ‘Will to Live’ centre which teaches disabled people computer graphics skills for free.

YSEALI is a signature programme launched by Barack Obama that seeks to empower the youth in Southeast Asia to tackle regional and global challenges.- VNS.

From left to right, Kim Đức & Quốc Đạt (Think Playground project), Nguyễn Thảo Vân (director of the ’Will to Live’ Center), and Đặng Thanh Tùng (Lily on the Streets project)

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