A Day for Youth at the U.N.

Organized by the non-profit organization Directions For Our Youth (DFOY), International Youth Day allows New York City's young residents a chance to interact with people from around the world. Directions For Our Youth, DFOY.org

A venue typically reserved for political dignitaries, the United Nations (specifically the adjacent Robert Moses Playground) in New York recently served as the special hosting grounds for this year's International Youth Day, held annually in August.

Organized by Directions for Our Youth, a non-profit organization, the event gives children and teenagers from impoverished neighborhoods the chance to interact with other cultures from around the world.

"This has been a remarkable global learning opportunity for all the youth involved," Anthony Loscalzo, Chairman of the DFOY board of directors, told CBS News. Loscalzo, who co-taught courses including Globalization and Human Values, and Personal Choice and Global Transformation, at Harvard University from 2003 to 2004, emphasized the crucial significance of this event, as some of New York's less economically stable communities may not otherwise gain access to such types of global encounters.

"International Youth Day allowed young people from the South Bronx, to exchange lessons and share talents with the youth of South America, South Asia, and South Africa," Loscalzo explained.

Korean, African, and Latin dance troops, along with various craft stands, poetry forums, sporting events and live music performances were just some of the activities featured in an effort to embrace all aspects of the cultures highlighted throughout the course of the day.

In addition, a live interactive element was added to the festivities this year, as the young attendees were able to communicate live via satellite with their peers in the African nation of Ghana, further conveying the sense of unity and learning which DFOY strives to present.

Domestic organizations were also represented, including the New York Knicks Groove Truck, which allowed basketball fans the chance to shoot and enhance their techniques. State and national politicians, such as representatives from the office of Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., were also on hand.

Perhaps most significantly, this year's International Youth Day centered on the theme of sustainability, emphasizing issues concerning climate change and the growing number of young people who are unemployed.

"This is a great opportunity for young people to learn about ways to sustain and improve their surroundings," said Samuel Conway, communications manager for DFOY. There were stands present featuring methods for gardening and cultivating food.

Dennis Carter, DFOY director of programs, noted that many children at the event had learned about maintaining both the environment and healthy lifestyle decisions not only on this day, but throughout the course of the summer in camps specially created for these Bronx students.

"From July 1st to today, this is the end result of a journey of sustainability," said Carter.

Loscalzo agreed, adding, "For DFOY students, it was the culmination of a summer of learning about the challenges and responsibilities of sustainability; in their lives, their communities, and around the world."

During an era of rampant wars and widespread economic devastation, perhaps it is fitting that the U.N. has designated International Youth Day as the world's first global holiday, instilling direction towards the future.

For more information, visit DFOY.org.
  • Ken Lombardi On Twitter» On Facebook»

    Ken Lombardi is an entertainment reporter for CBS News. He has interviewed over 300 celebrities, including Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey and Tom Hanks.

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