Mobilising young people in the fight to preserve cultural identity around the world

Today, the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO) are launching a new resource, ‘Trust Kids!’, a list of 25 things young people can do to explore, celebrate, preserve and share their cultural heritage.  In her annual World Heritage Day Lecture, Dame Fiona Reynolds, Chairman of INTO, warns that our intangible cultural heritage is under threat and that we must do all we can to encourage the next generation to protect, promote and pass it on.

Pupils of Nyangani High learn from the Zuwa Weavers, Zimbabwe (INTO images)

World Heritage Day aims to raise public awareness about the diversity and vulnerability of the world’s built monuments and heritage sites and the efforts required to protect and conserve them.  INTO’s 70 member organisations are dedicated to promoting the conservation and enhancement of the cultural and natural heritage of all nations for the benefit of people all over the world.  Last year a report by INTO highlighted apathy as a key threat to the future of our global heritage.

Today, Dame Fiona will speak about the importance of helping young people, living in an increasingly uncertain world, to embrace the future more positively and confidently by sharing the strengths of their cultural identity.

‘Trust Kids!’ is a list of 25 things young people can do to explore, celebrate, preserve and share their cultural heritage. From drawing your family tree to finding out how your town got its name; from learning a traditional dance to preparing a regional dish; discovering a local custom to interviewing an elder about community traditions, there are some great ideas for exploring heritage, learning new skills and trying new things.

The education resource aims to grow young people’s appreciation for their traditions and living culture, building greater solidarity and cultural respect, and increasing resilience in response to the threats to intangible heritage.

“Identity helps us to belong, to feel safe and to feel proud. Learning about our own identity will help us to better respect and tolerate each other. Cultural identity refers to the manner in which we express our uniqueness. This may be through the way we look or dress, the language we speak, the food we eat and other forms of expression. Identity is also expressed through values – what we consider as individuals, families or communities as positive.” (Trust Kids! 2017)

Ugandan bark cloth making (INTO images)

Dame Fiona spoke about the dangers to the survival of distinctive cultural expressions (dance, costume, music, poetry, storytelling, traditional games and handicrafts) posed by globalisation, social change, migration and apathy, and the work that the world’s biggest and broadest heritage group is doing to save it.

“The conservation of intangible heritage is no longer a fringe activity – it is a necessity. Preserving intangible heritage requires different measures to the ones used for conserving monuments and sites – it needs to be kept alive and relevant. It must be regularly practised and learned within communities and between generations. That is why engaging young people is essential to its survival.” (Dame Fiona Reynolds)

Dame Fiona also called on governments, including here in Britain, to ratify the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Find out more about TrustKids! on the website – https://intoorg.org/trust-kids

Want to know more about the International National Trusts Organisation?

Established in 2007, INTO is now the leading authority on the work of National Trusts worldwide and the issues affecting these community-based, non-governmental conservation organisations.

It’s overarching mission is to promote the conservation and enhancement of the cultural and natural heritage of all nations for the benefit of the people of the world.  It is the umbrella body for the family of National Trusts and similar organisations around the world that come together to share experience and expertise, to grow the capacity of existing Trusts, establish new ones in countries where they don’t currently exist, and to act as a global voice on international heritage matters.

Since the establishment of the first ‘National Trust’ in 1895, the movement has grown to include a range of countries and INTO now has seventy members from Australia to Zimbabwe.  Each is different, but face similar challenges and opportunities – increased pressure on land and landscapes, economic volatility and remaining relevant in an ever-changing society.

Take a look at the website to find out more: www.intoorg.org.

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