January 21, 2010

LKL Web Exclusive: Youth Are the Answer to Haiti Relief

Posted: 05:41 PM ET

This is a LKL Web Exclusive by Shawn H. Wilson, President of Usher’s "New Look" organization.

Last week a massive earthquake struck Haiti. It is the largest natural disaster the country has ever seen and many communities, families and youth are in dire need of assistance. As with many disasters, out of the rumble comes a renewed sense of service and charity from people around the world looking for ways to give back and support people in need. Within hours of the disaster there were messages flooding the internet, television and radio giving people an answer to the question of the day: “How can I help?”

Who will answer the call? Traditionally we turn to the government, celebrities and foundations to supply donations and support. However, we often forget about one group. This group represents more than half the world’s population. This group has the power, creativity and innovation to have a serious impact on global problems. This group has the savvy to mobilize millions. Who am I talking about? Young people!

Even though there are so many people working to help Haiti right now, we need to understand that a real solution to help Haiti lies in youth. It is estimated that there are over 3 billion people in the world under the age of 25. That’s 50% of the world’s population. This group is not only strong in numbers, but in ideas, ability and power. Furthermore, youth really do understand what the founder of our organization, Usher Raymond IV, calls “heart work”.

Youth have the desire and the power to serve. With this in mind Usher’s New Look, in partnership with the United Nations Foundation and partners around the world, is calling on all young people to show the rest if the world they have the power to contribute the solution to Haiti’s needs. Over 50% of Haiti’s population is under 25 too, so it is only right for youth to help their peers as they work to recover and rebuild a country.

If every young person around the world contributed one penny to support relief in Haiti we can raise $30 million. Of course, it is unrealistic to try to raise funds from every last young person, but what if only a small percentage got involved? Imagine if just 1% of the world youth population committed to raise $5 each for the UN Foundation’s relief in Haiti. They would raise $150 million.

On Monday, Jan 18th, Usher’s New Look issued a call to action to youth around the world to prove they have the power to have an impact on a humanitarian crisis. Since we issued the call we have seen tremendous support from old and new partners. Youth representing One Economy Corporation answered the call by creating an online toolkit and issuing the call to action to over 3000 youth in their network. NFL star, Will Smith of the New Orleans Saints stepped up by urging his fans to get involved and making a personal contribution of $20,000. Like Usher, Will understands that young people have the power to create change. This isn’t the first time he stepped up. Will supported youth involvement in the Gulf Coast when he supported HandsOn Network after Hurricane Katrina.

Our partners span the globe as well, youth leaders from organization halfway around the world—the Power of 10 in Malaysia—are mobilizing over 400,000 peers to raise dollars. All of these youth are mobilizing their peers to donate by texting CERF to 90999 or visiting the UN Foundation’s CERF donate page.

All of these partners and countless other supporters of youth understand that young people have the talent, creativity and energy to raise funds to support Haiti’s needs now and in the future. We are calling on youth to remember what it means to be Powered By Service. Your talents and creativity can be the key to alleviate the impact of this disaster and prevent future problems for this country. If you sing or dance hold a performance to raise funds. If you like to bake have a bake sale. If you’re an athlete consider raising funds at your next game or meet. If you enjoy writing, write a blog or a newsletter. If reading is your thing, hold a read in for Haiti. It doesn’t have to be complicated. A youth leader in the Bronx, NY, Ivan Jackson, raised $1000 just this week at a family gathering.

Remember, a part of this effort is also about tracking youth impact. Once youth donate to the UN Foundation we are asking for them to tweet @powerbyservice to demonstrate their commitment. We have already seen amazing reports of individual youth raising $600, $1000 and more.

Let’s join together and make sure Haiti is Powered By Service!

Visit and to learn more about how youth can be the solution.


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