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In 1999, the United Nations General Assembly declared 12 August as International Youth Day, providing an opportunity to recognise the vital contributions young people make to our world and to celebrate their energy, imagination and initiative.

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS), a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, commemorated International Youth Day in 2014 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London on Saturday 9 August.

Drawing from the UN’s ‘World Programme of Action for Youth’, a wider charter adopted in 1995 for the new millennium and beyond, the theme for the event was ‘Shaping the Present, Nurturing the Future’.

A BAPS youth leader spoke of the hope and responsibility young people represent in our world – the hope that together we can enjoy a better tomorrow, but for which today we must fulfil our responsibility of guiding and empowering youths.

Drawing on the UN’s theme for this year’s International Youth Day, ‘Mental Health Matters’, the speaker also stressed the importance of the family, social and school environment in removing the stigma often associated with mental illnesses and embracing everyone under the ancient Hindu teaching of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ – the whole world is one family.

The youths then engaged in a group activity wherein they discussed the importance of having a pure character and mind during this formative stage in life, as well as considering different ways in which they can contribute to the well-being of society.

The presentation also incorporated Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s message of ‘In the joy of others lies our own’, and highlighted various activities His Holiness has initiated for young boys and girls internationally.

In conclusion, the participants and volunteers joined in a collective prayer for the well-being of all youths around the world. They also prayed to be given the strength to study hard and serve their family, society and country to the best of their ability.

In thus observing International Youth Day, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha was able to raise awareness about correctly channelling the huge potential that lies within youths, and thereby reaffirmed its commitment to both young people and the hope they represent of a better world for us all.

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