On 12th August we celebrated International Youth Day by researching and promoting the efforts of Organisations into Social Good, supporting Youth & Civic Engagement and Gender Equality. This involved finding out about many personal stories and efforts to further understand both the successes and challenges faced by Youth People throughout the World.

One such story that has inspired us is the work of UN Youth Representative Jilt Van Schayik.

Jilt and his friend Teun founded the cycling project Building Bridges to focus on learning and broadcasting the priorities of young women and men at a grass-roots level.

From Amsterdam to Cape Town, across northern and western Europe, and along Africa’s western coast­, Jilt and Teun completed a cycling odyssey through 20 countries to hear what youth have and want to say.


“Far away from our realities, far away from New York, there is a world of young people whose voices have never been heard. As a youth delegate and a citizen of the world, I feel it is my duty to connect young people from all walks of life with the United Nations. My grandfather used to say to me: ‘Actions, not Words’. Therefore I do not only use nice words, but also decided to act,” says Jilt.


A further aim of the six-month quest from Amsterdam to Cape Town was to hear young people have there say about the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. A quest which ultimately culminated in a ceremony to mark the journeys end on 12th August, International Youth Day. UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Cape Town Mayor Patricia de Lille greeted Jilt and Teun.

Along the way Jilt and Teun worked with young ambassadors in each country to organize forums and consultations discussing issues such as gender equality in order to understand the specific development priorities of young people in each country.





UN Youth Delegate Jilt Van Schayik and a young man snap a selfie on stage, at the final celebratory event on International Youth Day. Photo courtesy of Jilt Van Schayik.


Jilt and Teun spent International Youth Day in Cape Town township – speaking with young people about gender issues, capturing their portraits and stories, and discussing there top MY World priorities. Students called for an end to gang-related crime, particularly violence against girls and women in public spaces.

We’d encourage you to visit the Building Bridges site and further find out about the work of Jilt and Teun’s epic journey.



Additional Information

Sources and Extracts : UN Women Website

Further Reading : UN My World Website

Follow Jilt on Twitter @JiltvSchayik