Olympics and Youth Work: Teaching Global Citizenship to Youth

As we watch the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, we recognize that our world is an increasingly complex web of interconnectedness and it is our role as youth workers to teach positive global citizenship.Olympic-logo

Global citizenship nurtures respect for others, regardless of where they live or what they believe. Oxfam defines a Global Citizen as someone who

  • is aware of the wider world and has a sense of their own role as a world citizen
  • is outraged by social injustice
  • is willing to act to make the world a more equitable and sustainable place
  • respects and values diversity
  • understands how the world works
  • participates in the community at a range of levels, from the local to the global
  • takes responsibility for their actions.

Global citizenship means young people have an understanding of the world around them. They see that their actions have an impact at home, but also around the world. Being a global citizen means taking responsibility for global issues and acting to build a more just and sustainable world.

globe with peopleIdeas for Global Citizenship recognizes that to be an effective global citizen is to be able to solve problems, make decisions, think critically, communicate ideas effectively and work well within teams and groups. These 21st Century skills are essential to youth success and many are required in the workplace. It is our responsibility as youth workers to help youth develop these skills through global citizenship education.

Global issues can be addressed in youth work through a variety of participatory teaching and learning methodologies, including structured discussion and debate. It can include a variety of actions, such as

  • advocating for policy and programmatic solutions that address global problems
  • creating public awareness campaigns at the local level for global issues
  • adopting changes in personal lifestyle and consumer choice to help protect the environment
  • contributing to worldwide humanitarian relief efforts
  • organizing events that celebrate the diversity in world music, art, culture, and spiritual traditions

It is crucial to understand that teaching global citizenship does not promote one set of values or attitudes, but instead encourages youth to explore, develop and express their own values and opinions while listening and respecting other people’s perspectives.

Call to Action!

The Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA) recognizes the importance of promoting global citizenship in youth work and has partnered with the University of Minnesota Extension to host regional trainings on the topic. Join us in Duluth, MN on September 22, 2016 and in Marshall, MN on October 20, 2016.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the necessity of global citizenship in our everyday lives. Just look at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio. As we watch this event, it is impossible to ignore that our world is an increasingly complex web of interconnectedness. As youth workers, teaching positive global citizenship should be a priority.


Maggie Dudley is the Membership Director for Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA)



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