When Sundre High School Katie Jackson sits down in New York with United Nations diplomats next month, she will be the one person representing youth from around the world.
The 17-year-old student admits she is nervous, but based on all accounts, she’s up to task.
Jackson was chosen recently by Lions Clubs International to join their roundtable discussions at United Nations Headquarters on March 12. She will be part of the discussion about women’s empowerment and gender equality.
Lions Day at the UN is a meeting of 700 international members of the club, diplomats and others international representatives. The Lions have been working co-operatively with the United Nations since 1945, offering input about the challenges facing the global community.
A lot of countries don’t have the rights that women in North America have, Jackson said. “But Canada and the U.S. have some areas to work on themselves, like equal opportunity for women.
“Third World countries have a lot of work to do and education is super important there.”
She calls herself a feminist but said men and boys are just as impacted by issues such as body image and mental health.
Jackson is strong in academics and is involved in high school sports and other activities. She is also president of the students union and on a student committee that works with Chinook’s Edge School Division. She wants to study political science and law after high school.
For the past several years Jackson has spent part of her summer on a tall ship based Victoria, B.C., learning the ropes about sailing on the ocean. “I love sailing. It’s just so different from all the cows and the horses.”
With teacher Ryan Beck and others, Jackson helped found the Sundre High School Leo Club, the Lions’ youth division.
Last year the Leos donated $4,000 worth of care packages to the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter. They also held a compassion week at her school, talking about people who might feel marginalized and giving support to them, Jackson said.
They also did a presentation to Grade 9 students about domestic abuse, and held a women’s self-defence course.
This year the club visited a Calgary drop-in centre where they volunteered and donated care packages. It’s helping the community to better understand homelessness, Jackson said.
She is excited about visiting the United Nations, which she will attend with her parents and a teacher.
“It’s really crazy. It hasn’t even sunk in yet. Really nervous. … I hope all of my thoughts will be collected and I’ll be able to get my point across.
“Being the only youth at the table, with the task of representing my generation and my gender, is kind of daunting.”
While there, she has also been invited by Lions Clubs International President Jitsuhiro Yamada as a special guest to attend a VIP dinner marking the club’s 70th anniversary partnership with the United Nations.