Fitchburg Preps for International Youth Day
FITCHBURG - From Parkland to local politics, young people are pushing the needle forward on issues that matter most.
On Saturday, Gallery Sitka will celebrate International Youth Day by using art as a catalyst to inspire young people to create local change with global impact. “Youth need civic spaces, public spaces, digital spaces and also physical spaces to be active and participate to change things for sustainable development,” said Dr.
Tatjana Kobb. Kobb and Gallery Sitka director Tamar Russell Brown organized the celebration in partnership with the Fitchburg Art Museum, Public Library and the city.
The United Nations established International Youth Day in 1990. The day is commemorated each year on Aug. 12, and communities across the world celebrate the day on or around that date.
The theme of International Youth Day this year is “Safe Spaces for Youth.”
Gallery Sitka is one of those safe spaces, said Brown. But young people often don’t feel comfortable stopping in.
Saturday’s event aims to change that.
“We want the kids to come and be inspired, and realize that art is not about snobbery, which it can be in some larger cities. It’s is about expressing yourself,” said Brown.
Young people -- whom Kobb, a physician and founder of consulting firm Boston Sustainable Development, defines as ages 15 to 35 -- are invited to participate in art workshops and discussions about youth engagement in sustainable development.
“If young people came in, looked around, got inspired and tried to submit work, it could change a young person’s life to be involved,” said Brown.
The celebration runs from 2 to 5 p.m. About 2:30 p.m., Kobb will give a presentation on the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda 2030. The UN plan contains 17 goals, including eliminating hunger and poverty, and reaching gender parity.
Kobb hopes that by connecting with one another over art and conversation, young people will be motivated to help the city meet those goals.
“UN sustainable development goals are not just up there in the air with high officials in the UN government,” she said. “They are local.”
But in order to organize youth must have “safe spaces” to meet with one another, share ideas and work together, said Kobb. Gallery Sitka is one, as is the public library, and the art museum.
Following Kobb’s presentation, a representative from the city will discuss municipal efforts to create such spaces for young people, said Brown.
Sam Squailia, an atlarge city councilor and architectural engineer, will discuss sustainable urban development, said Kobb.
Painter Iphigenia Gossios Burg will teach young people about his medium, and jewelry maker Melissa James will discuss how she creates wearable art.
Fitchburg is one of three communities in the United States whose International Youth Day programming is officially recognized by the UN, said Brown, though hundreds of cities and towns worldwide are participating.