Nairobi, 8 April 2016—UN-Habitat last month hosted and honored the first cohort of Emerging Community Champions.

These are young people who have made remarkable achievements and continue to inspire hope, provide leadership both at the community level and seek to better the world.

Over 60 young people selected from about 350 nominees, and drawn from diverse backgrounds and sectors got trained at the UN Habitat’s One Stop Youth Resource Centre in Kenya, were presented with certificates of recognitions for their outstanding achievements in community service, particularly improving youth livelihoods, promoting social and economic transformation and community development.

Speaking to the honorees, Farah Eck, Alumni & Volunteer Relations Director, at President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), encouraged young people to “Take Action”. Farah demonstrated how young people’s little actions could impact towards the change that we want to see around us. She highlighted through a formula how young people should treat and maximize arising opportunities.

“Do not be afraid of taking action, you – young people are the hope of Africa” she said Her presentation helped the participants to magnify the impact of small deeds, which most young people tend to shy away from.

Delegates had a wonderful moment to share their experience championing different causes in the society. One of the emerging aspects was the power of volunteering and the fulfillment that comes with it.

Pauline Muthoni, one of the delegates, and a fellow of Mandela Washington Fellowship 2014 spoke on how effective applications are done and bluntly explained the effects of engaging in cliché projects. She raised the issue of mentorship stating: Mentorship is critical for the development of young people, but we must do it in the right way to achieve the desired results.”

Brenda Mbaja Lubang’a from West Pokot in Kenya addressed the issue of early pregnancies, which is what prompted her to be a community champion towards ensuring young girls, and boys take up sex education. “Young people’s action is like a bushfire, when it starts, it is unstoppable” she said.

On his part Raphael Obonyo, a former UN Habitat’s Youth Advisory Board member, and the founder of Emerging Community Champions, insisted that all it takes is for young people to identify individuals with common goals and work together towards achieving that particular goal. “Young people have the potential and power to overcome the challenges in their communities and in the world” he said.

The Youth Unit Leader at the UN Habitat Mr. Doug Ragan, who presided over the event described as the pass out parade, urged young people to pay attention to things that influence the impact of the programmes they run. “Youth are the greatest asset, and the hope in our society, and we must build on them” He also emphasized on working together to realize the desired change. “If young people genuinely work together as champions of change, then the future can only be so bright,” he added