In its recent report, “Engaging Young People for Health and Sustainable Development,”the World Health Organisation (WHO) highlighted the efforts of our very own Roots & Shoots programme! The report recognises organisations that excel in engaging youth (defined as anyone between the ages of 10 and 24) in issues including sustainability, education, gender equality and human rights. Roots & Shoots received special attention for its innovative approach to working with young people.

The Roots & Shoots program was praised for its strength in establishing opportunities for youth leadership and geographic impact. The WHO report focuses on four essential resources necessary for a robust youth leadership strategy: space, voice, audience and influence. In the report, WHO applauds Roots & Shoots’ role in helping “young people identify local problems, propose solutions, and work under mentorship of adults/decision makers to move their concept forward and elicit change”.

In perhaps the most exciting part of the report, Roots & Shoots received the highest possible ranking in youth involvement. The report includes a metric used to judge successful youth involvement known as Hart’s Ladder of Participation. The ladder ranges from manipulation in Rung 1 (which is considered non-participation) to youth and adults sharing in decision-making in Rung 8 (the highest degree of participation). The ideal for participation shown on the highest rungs of the ladder detail a relationship in which young people truly become leaders and equal to those running the programmes. As the only group to receive a spot on Rung 7-8, Roots & Shoots’ recognition underscores the positive relationship between youth and adults along with the true activism that the program instils. Roots & Shoots obtained this score by encouraging young people to identify problems that they see in their communities and providing them with the necessary resources to develop their own solutions.

WHO created the report to examine their own youth engagement strategy and develop a plan to improve the effectiveness of their outreach. The organisation argues that – as the largest generation of young people in history – this generation should not be restricted from the dialogue and participation in shaping health and sustainable development. Taking into account that the benefit-cost ratio of investing in young people lies at a staggering 10:1, there is good reason to make investment in youth a priority.

As the report emphasises, creating opportunities for young people to speak up and actively become involved in society is a truly vital responsibility of any organisation. By providing this platform, we can help foster a new generation of leaders to enact positive change in the world. Our inclusion in this report is quite exciting and a testament to what can be achieved when you inspire with hope and support young people taking action.

Want to get started with Roots & Shoots?