Sir Donald Charles McKinnon ONZ GCVO
Former Secretar-General, Commonwealth Secretariat
"The Commonwealth Secretariat first became aware of the work of the Youth Charter in 1997. A part of Manchester’s bid to win the 2002 Commonwealth Games was a ground-breaking five-year report ‘The Youth Charter for Sport as a Contributor to Social Regeneration’."
“I am the first to extol the virtues, the potential, the sheer wonder of ‘the flower of youth’. So, too, am I painfully aware of how flowers can wilt. We are a young Commonwealth; we are a young world. And how do our flowers grow? 200 million youths worldwide live on less than a dollar day, 130 million are illiterate, 88 million are unemployed, 10 million live with HIV. Those figures are difficult to absorb, but one thing is clear – they are millions too many. An absolute Commonwealth priority is to nurture that flower of youth. We do it through our 30-year old Commonwealth Youth Programme – launching youth businesses, giving youth a voice, supporting youth networks and their governance, training youth workers, and getting behind the work of the World Bank and the UN agencies in their own efforts. We do it, too, through our Commonwealth Advisory Board on Sport. CABOS, in liaison with national sports ministries, has unearthed magnificent examples – of sport making people healthier; of sport supporting education, either through the simple feat of keeping kids in school, or through the ways in which it passes on messages about society, crime, sex and more; and of sport building communities and, within them, leaders. So it’s not just ‘sport for sport’s sake’. It’s ‘sport for the good’; and it’s ‘health, education and community- building through sport’. The Commonwealth Secretariat first became aware of the work of the Youth Charter in 1997. A part of Manchester’s bid to win the 2002 Commonwealth Games was a ground-breaking five-year report ‘The Youth Charter for Sport as a Contributor to Social Regeneration’. It spoke very powerfully of the role that sport could play in improving young people’s quality of life, and indeed their overall life chances through sport, arts and cultural activity. I have been privileged to watch the continued development and progress of the work of the Youth Charter in the Commonwealth. At the Manchester Commonwealth Games, I witnessed first hand the unforgettable energy of the young people of the host city and of Barbados, when I hosted Commonwealth Youth Question Time at the Moss Side Millennium Powerhouse. At the same time, we were joined by HRH The Princess Royal at the launch of the Commonwealth Citizenship in Action initiative at the International Conference for Commonwealth Sport. The work of agencies such as the Youth Charter is transforming young peoples’ lives. I warmly commend it and am delighted to contribute to this Youth Charter Commonwealth ‘12’ Report.”
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