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Action always beats intention - inspiring words from the CO-CREATE Youth Declaration Taskforce
During the last year, young people from the CO-CREATE Youth Alliances across Europe have convened a Task Force to discuss the obesity-related policy ideas and develop a youth declaration. The declaration was adopted in November 2020 and contains four demands that the Task Force members identified as key steps towards obesity prevention in society. Here, you can get to know some of the young people who took part in this work, as they tell why they wanted to join the project and what they have learned from it to date.
Zuzanna Burzyńska, Poland, 17 years old:
My adventure with CO-CREATE project started almost two years ago. Initially, I attended Youth Alliance meetings organized at my school throughout the academic year. During those gatherings I was given an opportunity to, for instance, create a scheme of my nutrition policy. Then I was so fortunate that another opportunity arose – as a Youth Alliance member, I could apply to join the CO-CREATE Youth Declaration Task Force. I took the chance, sent my application, and was accepted.
As I reiterate during the virtual meetings with representatives of institutions such as WHO or UNICEF, I joined this group primarily to share my knowledge about a healthy lifestyle and nutrition, which I’ve gained since I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a few years ago. However, it was not the only reason. I truly believe that young people can change the world we live in and, therefore, I want to be a part of this change instead of being passive and expecting others to do something about the obesity problem among children and youth. As far as I’m personally concerned, the only way of dealing with the problem is to take action shoulder to shoulder, to make a change with close cooperation between adolescents and adults. The CO-CREATE Youth Declaration Task Force project enabled me (and other wonderful and committed teenagers from different European countries, whom I’ve become friends with) to do so.
Pedro Gonçalves, Portugal, 19 years old:
My experience with CO-CREATE started when I joined one of the Portuguese alliances. We worked together and brought up a lot of concerns and solutions related to obesity. After that, I joined the Youth Task Force and we wrote a Declaration with four demands that, if put in practice, will decrease obesity among youth (and among the entire population in the future).
My experience has been great. I’ve learned so much about obesity and youth empowerment. This project taught me how to communicate with others; how to work as a team member; how to speak in public. It has allowed me to meet so many people, so many young activists, and enthusiasts. It has shown me that there are a lot of people out there trying to create a better world. Getting out of their comfort zone and giving their time and enthusiasm.
Mafalda Gonçalves, Portugal, 19 years old:
When I joined the CO-CREATE project I thought it would be an incredible opportunity to approach an important problem such as the health and well-being of young people. To try to find solutions to implement in my community. When the opportunity to join the task force appeared I thought it would be amazing to hear opinions from very diverse backgrounds and, with them in mind, create policies to make a difference.
I’ve learned that, if you want to achieve something, you need to work hard to get it and that being motivated and in love with what you’re doing means you’re already halfway there. Also, if you want to see some change in your society, you need to take the first move and guarantee that you are heard by the people in power.
You can read the CO-CREATE Youth Declaration here.