Pretoria — Celebrated High School Musical US actress Monique Coleman will be visiting South Africa from 12-18 May 2011 as part of her world tour as UN Youth Champion to raise awareness of the International Year of Youth and the Millennium Development Goals.
While in South Africa, Ms. Coleman is meeting with high school and university students and youth groups in Gauteng province. Ms. Coleman is engaging young people, inspiring them to speak up on issues of importance to them.
“The purpose of the tour is to see first-hand what youth all over the world are experiencing. Through social media and streaming technologies, I intend to connect youth who feel they are worlds apart,” said Ms. Coleman.
Ms. Coleman also seeks to promote volunteer activities among youth and has joined in UN-supported local programmes to help out.
Ms. Coleman is also the creator and executive producer of an online talk show whose goal is to create an environment where teens feel safe and open to talking about important issues, promoting organizations that are serving teenagers, and conducting celebrity interviews to highlight Hollywood’s commitment to “giving back”.
Ms. Coleman was drawn to South Africa because she believes that its youth must be part of the work in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the UN’s agenda for development. Ms. Coleman will be visiting projects supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), among others.
During her time in South Africa, Ms. Coleman will be discussing topics such as HIV/AIDS, violence against girls and women, rape, alcohol and drug abuse, teen pregnancy, and environmental awareness with various groups of young people.
Her tour in South Africa includes, among others, a dialogue with Model UN students from the University of Witswatersrand and the University of Johannesburg; interaction with high schools in Johannesburg and Pretoria, including the National School of Arts, and with a club of the Girls and Boys Education Movement (GEM/BEM) – an initiative of the Department of Education with UNICEF support; a performance with refugee youth; visits to an orphanage in Mamelodi, and a shelter for youth: and meetings with non-governmental organizations, including loveLife, South Africa’s largest national HIV prevention initiative for young people.
Among the countries she has already visited are Australia, Bangladesh, China, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kenya, the Philippines and Thailand.
The International Year of Youth was launched on 12 August 2010 and runs through 11 August 2011. Among its aims is to advance the participation of young people on global, regional and national issues that affect them. The theme of the year is Dialogue and Mutual Understanding, calling for bridge-building between generations and across cultures, religions and civilization.