By: Jeff Yurek, BScPhm

International Youth Day is celebrated annually on August 12 to bring attention to youth issues and to celebrate the potential of youth as partners in today’s society. The theme of this year’s International Youth Day is Intergenerational Solidarity: creating a world for all ages.

One of the goals of this year’s theme is to raise awareness on certain barriers to intergenerational solidarity, notably ageism, which impacts young and old persons, while having detrimental effects on our communities. The World Health Organization defines ageism as “the stereotypes (how we think), prejudice (how we feel) and discrimination (how we act) directed towards others or oneself, based on age”. Ageism is a significant challenge to fostering collaborations and solidarity across age groups. It can impact ways in which people can reach their full potential and contribute to our communities.

While often rooted in jokes, there has been a growing trend in our society to have negative slurs or attitudes towards other generations. We often hear the term “ok Boomer” and stereotypes are abound for millennials. Repeated enough, a narrative develops which hinders listening and learning from other generations. Preconceived ideas affect the way we interact with each other. The pandemic has magnified many problems in our society that require immediate solutions. The best answers will come from listening and acting on the various perspectives from all ages. No generation has a monopoly on great ideas. This year’s theme is asking us to reflect and see how we can build intergenerational solidarity in order to build stronger communities. We can learn so much from each other. By breaking down the barriers to intergenerational solidarity, we can enhance our lives and our communities.