Voices of youth – January 14 2021 The best investment countries can make is in children and youth Lusvin González Girón, 18, from Guatemala, was one of the speakers at the Joining Forces for All Children event on World Children’s Day. Lusvin, who grew up in an SOS Children’s Village, explains what led him to do advocacy and why the participation of children and young people is indispensable. My interests since childhood were electronics. Drawing somehow made me despair because I felt it was not good, although I overcame that and do better now. Other things such as reading also caught my attention. My first contact with human rights was in school and then in the place where I live. I never thought I was actively advocating for rights in general, but somehow it happened. In the past, I did not comprehend the real reason for talking about children’s rights. Each such space only meant an experience, a new place that I visited. The main objective of each meeting was to socialize, not to understand the real deep problems that have accompanied many for a long time. I gained knowledge, new ways of thinking, and my paradigms were unconsciously changing. As of then, I only verified what I found in books. Finding out about the meaning of participation The moment when I realized the importance of participation and advocacy went unnoticed. From that moment on, it was no longer just talk, it was about children, data, social conditions and a voice that tries to be heard throughout the world - and to find people who would listen. This is how I found out about the actual significance of my participation. I believed that my horizons would reach as far as what I could see. But it is not like that. There are more children and young people facing different situation. Some are institutionalized and others who, like me, want to make the reality of many children known. Until now, few of us had the opportunity to speak with world leaders and it is something unique, but it also means we must make known the problems of a large population. It is important to establish spaces that promote the genuine and central participation of children and youth in decisions affecting their lives. We must foster synergies between the perspective and knowledge of adults and us, the children and young people, so that the best decisions are made. Politics should have an impact on many lives I hope that events like this one will not only remain an experience, but have real value and not only for me. I hope that policies and agreements made influence many lives and change the way of living, of accessing basic resources and, above all, education. That is why I emphasize that the best investment that countries can make is in children and youth. Those who cannot live with their parents should find shelter and someone to protect them. It can be places that promote family unity and give a sense of being at home. Companies can donate, states can and should protect children and young people and the benefits are mutual. But children and young people can unite to fight for others. When looking back at my life, I see many moments and people that have changed my life. Because of everything I have received and the people I have met, I feel that I am a very lucky young man committed to defending our rights. The original Spanish version of the article is available here.