Jasper Johnston is taking on the world.
The 16-year-old Victoria resident has been invited to Recife, Brazil to take part in the World Vision Cup, which brings together teens and young adults from 13 different countries to play, connect and advocate for the rights of youth around the world.
Leveraging the global attention stirred by the FIFA World Cup in Recife, the seven-day event, May 10-17, combines soccer, cultural exchange, and discussions around the most pressing issues facing young people.
It’s a dream come true for Johnston.
“It caught my interest right away because it involves soccer, and it combines my love for volunteers work and passion for World Vision,” he said.
In addition to the soccer tournament, the youth will participate in workshops where they learn and share their thoughts and experiences about how violence affects youth – violence in all forms including economic violence, child labour and sexual exploitation. Thirteen teens from across Canada will participate.
“I hope to bring back some global perspective, including meeting these other youth and discussing issues surrounding child abuse,” said Johnston, who has played soccer for more than eight years and now participates at an elite level.
Sarah Bartley, a communications officer with World Vision, said her organization operates numerous programs world-wide that work to prevent child abuse and violence aimed at steering youth in a different direction and give them alternate tools to solve problems.
“We’ve helped youth become community leaders, helped them identify the problems they face in their neighbourhoods and help them to come up with action plans, such as lobbying their politicians and guide them to come up with real solutions.”
Johnston said while he is excited about the soccer opportunities, he also can’t wait to discuss world issues at the international conference, which at the end will issue a communique to federal government offering recommendations and solutions.
“It’s just going to be cool to meet other passionate youth from around the world who share many of the same interests and the same passions. It’ll be great to have discussions with them,” he said.
When Jasper Johnston heads to Recife, Brazil next month for the World Vision Cup, he’ll meet youth from around the world. Here are the countries participating:
• South Korea
• Dominican Republic