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Youth Fest: A celebration of youth for all ages

Asini Liyanage, co-organiser of Youth Fest, reflects on the event and the journey leading up to the big day. Youth Fest was one of our main events during our #InclusiveSpaces Week of Action. Find out more about the campaign on our Inclusive Spaces page.

Being one of the co-organisers of Youth Fest led was an insightful experience that I’m grateful for.

Youth Fest was originally planned as a festival consisting only of interactive stalls. At these stalls, people would have the opportunity to learn what changes they can make in their everyday lives to help them reduce any negative impacts they were having on the environment. However, it was later decided that having speakers instead of stalls would be more powerful - and that is how Youth Fest evolved into what it came to be.

On the day, Youth Fest went fairly smoothly with myself and Tamanna - my fellow organiser - doing everything we could to ensure it went to plan. Despite the turn out being slightly less than we had expected, perhaps due to the extremely windy conditions, everyone at the event really seemed to enjoy the atmosphere at Roof East created by our talented musicians. Attendees learnt something from the various interesting talks presented by our electic mix of speakers. We even received feedback at the event were suggesting we should make the event annual! 

Organising Youth Fest gave me the opportunity to learn a lot about myself. It allowed me to explore the use of emotional intelligence when managing other individuals, it made me realise I have the ability to remain calm when things are not going in the way that I desire. It gave me the opportunity to develop my leadership skills by managing other individuals and delegating tasks based on their individual skillsets during the lead up to and on the day of the event.

Furthermore, it gave me the opportunity to learn how to liaise professionally with individuals, through email, social media and in person. I realised for the first time how much I enjoy planning. Youth Fest has been the first event of this calibre that I have planned so it was extremely insightful to learn all the different processes and steps involved in the organisation of it. These steps ranged from finding a location, contacting organisations and individuals to ask if they would like to be involved in the event, discussing how to get equipment that would be required during the event, sourcing professional photographers, organising promotion of the event and then organising details on the day of the event to ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible. 

Most importantly, however, the event allowed me to realise the benefits of using outdoor spaces to bring communities together. In a day and age where individuals are so caught up with the use of technology and social media, fragmentation and isolation within communities is commonplace – especially in large cities such as London.

Therefore, it is incredibly important to have events such as this in order to encourage individuals to make use of outdoor spaces and come together over shared interests in order to make the most of the real world outside of mobile phones.

The many benefits of the use of outdoor spaces whether that be on mental health or fitness only reiterate why it is so important to do so. If we can encourage young individuals in particular then it is a key way to target the next generation and to create a legacy that can be passed down through the ages.

Asini is a Groundwork Young Green Ambassador and a second year student at the University of Surrey, studying Biological Science with the aim of one day going on to doing a job that will have a genuine positive impact on the world and the people in it. 

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