Health promotion: young people are here and ready to engage

Nada Alichiah Hasan-Viljakainen is a young Indonesian woman and an advocate for healthier living. She was a youth representative at the AIC’s ‘Youth are our Future’ forum in Jakarta in September 2018.

As a young adult, I am passionate about better health and wellbeing for myself, my generation and today’s children. I am concerned about how social interaction is changing because of gadgets, like mobile phones. It seems really hard for anyone now a days to be away from their phone. I believe we could build better social connection by getting away from our phones.

During the second round of the election of Jakarta 2017, I introduced people to an activity called Main Bersama (playing together) to get them away from their phones and still doing something fun. I hired and briefed a team to run the program, which saw people spend two hours without gadgets per day.

We have a dependency on gadgets that changes our soft skills, and possibly even contributes to health issues. As human beings, we need genuine social connection with other people – sharing eye contact, laughing together – even arguments with others can be good for you! Real social skills teach us how to interact with people throughout the good times and the tough times. Sometimes we use gadgets to avoid acknowledging or discussing events and issues going on around us.

The whole community needs to work hand in hand to solve issues that affect young people and to build opportunities for better health and mental wellbeing. There are already many researchers working hard to bring us data and other evidence to illustrate this need. Our government and many NGOs are also working to open up a bright future for the young generations. There are also young people that have dreams but don’t know how to achieve them. For our young people to have a bright future, we need to work together, and their social skills, not to mention a good education, are a solid foundation.

Nada chats over morning tea with Helen Fletcher-Kennedy (COO, The Australia-Indonesia Centre) (far right) and other guests at the ‘Youth are our Future’ forum. (Credit: AIC)

Young generations, young adults, teenagers and children are the start. It is really important that their ideas are listened to and that they have a seat at the table during discussions. Don’t talk about us, without us. We need to be connected and part of research, with researchers, doctors and psychologists.

Last, but not least, the government should connect and engage more of the young generation in seminars and training, for example. (Thank you to those who are already doing this!) The younger generations are often only in the audience at events, but they also have voices and need to speak up.

I hope my passion project of promoting two hours a day without a mobile to foster better social connection can have a real-world impact for myself and my peers, and help us achieve better health and mental wellbeing. I am sure there are also many other ways we can help achieve the demographic bonus of Generasi Emas (the Golden Generation) in 2030. To uncover these possibilities, young people, whether children, teenagers or adults, need to be invited to the table by government, researchers and NGOs.