In the wake of COVID-19, young people were faced with disrupted schooling, increased anxiety, and challenges of finding a first job and standing up for planetary health. But what remains strong is the power of youth voices as we reimagine better futures for every child.
Imagining Health Futures was launched in September 2020 by The Lancet & Financial Times Commission Governing health futures 2030: Growing up in a digital world and UNICEF. This initiative aims to support and encourage adolescents, and inform a deeper understanding of their health and well-being in a world increasingly impacted by digital technologies and data. It leverages the talents of 13 promising and awarded science fiction authors and experiences of young people from around the world to craft a collection of short speculative fiction stories that put to paper possible health futures in a digital world.
On Encourage a Young Writer Day, we recognise the power of young people’s imaginations to change the world.
Inspired by story building sessions with young people living in countries all around the world, the collaborating authors are currently in the midst of their writing process. Their content will be published in September 2021, alongside the launch of the Governing health futures 2030 Commission report. In the meantime, some authors have shared their experience and a piece of advice for youth who are committed to making a difference and writing new #MyFutureMyHealth narratives. Which piece of advice resonates with you?
What is one piece of advice you’d like to give young writers?
Young writers, learn from our past as you build the future. Your colorful minds are very needed in this world. You are the creator of tomorrow.
– Mika Hirwa, Rwanda
You have time—take it. The lessons needed to become a writer are never ending, so always be open to learning. Write as often and as seriously as your life circumstances allow. Leave room to forgive yourself when plans go awry. Set time aside from the desk to make new experiences with friends and family. Each of these things come together to influence how stories come out of you.
– Suyi Davies Okungbowa, Nigeria and Sierra Leone, West Africa
Writing should be fun, so be sure you write the way that makes you comfortable. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. If you enjoy working on your phone or tablet more than on your laptop, use those! If you prefer only to write 10 minutes each day, or just on the weekends, that is fine. All that matters is that you write, and you enjoy it!
– George Jreije, Lebanon
I would encourage anyone who wants to be a writer to treat writing like a practice – the more you stretch and use your writing ‘muscles’, the stronger they grow. Take every opportunity to write and to share your words with an audience, whether it’s your friends, family, or an online community. There’s really nothing better than knowing your words have impacted someone positively.
– Zoya Patel, Fiji and Federated States of Micronesia, Pacific Islands
Quit dreaming and start doing. Remember there is no special recipe in writing. You need to quit ‘I want to’ and turn your dreams into reality. It always seems hard until it’s done. Don’t plan the ending when you start writing, just live in the moment and let everything flow naturally. Wishing you lots of luck in your writing journey.
– Ndinaelao Moses, Namibia
Cuando escribo converso conmigo misma, con las escritoras y escritores que admiro y con los lectores y las lectoras que disfrutan de mis historias, todo a la vez. En el acto de la escritura, como en el de la lectura, confluyen el pasado, el presente y el futuro. Ser escritora es el mejor modo de vivir el tiempo para mí. A veces da vértigo, ¡pero la aventura lo vale!
– Paula Bombara, Argentina
There is no one good way to write, or one best way to find readers. There is no one form of writing that is superior to any other: it’s all a question of finding your own voice, and your own path, and not getting thrown off it by either external success or failure. Write what you enjoy, what you care about, what you believe in, what is true for you.
– Samit Basu, India
At the beginning of your career, you can feel the pressure to imitate other writers’ voices or styles in order to fit in or join the club of greatness. You absolutely don’t have to. The only thing every great writer has is his own voice. Find your own voice, develop your own style, don’t be afraid to experiment and to improvise. Writing is freedom, it is not copying others, no matter how great they are.
– Ghada Abdel Aal, Egypt
Never worry about being published. Find a way to get yourself well-fed. Be kind to the people you consider family since they are the one who will take care of you when you get sick. Take care of them back. Sleep enough every day.
– Norman Erikson Pasaribu, Indonesia
Writing began for me as a way to quiet my mind but, really, it was a way to interrogate and understand myself better and the world we live in. It reminds me that life is worth living and exploring. By writing, I create new worlds born of my lived experiences and the creations of others before me.
– Ray Mwihaki, Kenya
More information about Imagining Health Futures, including resources to start creating story content and engage youth, can be found here.