Reach Out To Asia (ROTA) has outlined exciting plans for the 6th EMPOWER Youth Conference taking place at Qatar Foundation Student Center-Doha, from 27 to 29 March 2014.

This year’s event, under the theme, ‘Sports for Youth Empowerment’, is sponsored by Msheireb Properties, a real estate company and a subsidiary of Qatar Foundation. The company was established as a commercial venture to support the Foundation’s aims and the Qatar National Vision 2030.

Organisers of the landmark event known for ’empowering Qatar’s youth’ said 450 youth between the ages of 16 and 26 have been shortlisted  to participate at EMPOWER 2014.

ROTA National Programs Director, Mohamed Saleh, said:

We look forward to meeting the  youth leaders, hearing their opinions and ideas for tackling the community, social and environmental issues that really matter to the young people of the world.’

Joining the Empower 2014 Conference will be the acclaimed author, philanthropist and President Barack Obama’s half-sister, Dr Auma Obama, as main guest. Dr Obama is the Founder and Director of the Sauti Kuu Foundation. Sauti Kuu is Kiswahili for ‘Powerful Voices’. The foundation seeks to give perspective to disadvantaged children and youth by helping them unlock their potential, in particular through Life Skills training and educational opportunities that lead to economic sustainability. The foundation’s sponsorship programmes in sports, education, nutrition and health are designed to help youth lead self-determined lives. The foundation is based on the principle of ‘self-help’ and aims to support and motivate the younger generations to take their fate into their own hands and be the makers of their own destiny.

Another distinguished participation will add value to ROTA event. Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace to the United Nations Secretary-General, will be addressing ROTA youth through an inspiring video message on the opening day of Empower. Lemke, who met ROTA youth, motivated them on the power of sport and physical activity in bringing together people from different social, economic, cultural and religious backgrounds. As Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace, Lemke is responsible for heading the efforts of the UN system in promoting understanding and support for sport as an instrument for development and peace as well as encouraging dialogue, collaboration and partnership. Since the International Year of Sport and Physical Education in 2005, United Nations Member States have better understood the role of sport in development and peace in their national legislation and policies.

A third prominent guest who will provide valuable support to the event is Jaber Al Harmy, Editor-in-Chief of Al Sharq newspaper. Al Harmy will be meeting ROTA youth Advisory board before the event to exchange thoughts on sports, education, leadership skills and media role in encouraging youth participation in the community events.

Supported by a powerful programme, focusing on leadership, service learning and global citizenship, organisers will integrate sports, environment, skills development and the Arabic language as key themes of the EMPOWER 2014 programme.

Saleh said:

EMPOWER 2014 will focus on Sports for Youth Empowerment. Through sport, our youth will discover talents they never knew they had. With the participation of respected public figures as Dr Auma Obama, Wilfried Lemke and Jaber Al Harmy, we will all benefit from their perception to gain a new understanding of Sport and Education as tools of change…the main aim of EMPOWER 2014 is to raise awareness and build knowledge and capacity to enable young people to take leadership roles in addressing local and international developmental issues of concern to them especially in the area of Sustainable Development and Sports.’

Following the success of five previous EMPOWER conferences, ROTA is inviting regional youth activists this year. This will be a good platform for youth from different regions to network with the youth in Qatar; nine organisations from the USA, India, the UK, Lebanon and Qatar will take part in the conference and share their capabilities with Empower’s youth: Right to play (Lebanon), Coaches across continents (USA), Liverpool Sport Club Foundation (UK), Magic Bus (India), Aspire Academy, Qatar’s Ministry of Youth and Sport, Aspetar, Qatar football association and Qatar Olympic Committee.

Demonstrating the wisdom of ROTA’s decision to ensure EMPOWER remains a youth-led conference, EMPOWER 2014 has been organised in collaboration with a Planning Committee comprising 30 youth volunteers. The Planning Committee served EMPOWER by assisting ROTA in planning, implementing and coordinating certain elements of the conference. Whilst the Planning Committee attended planning meetings and allocated time and effort to implement their tasks, ROTA committed to provide training, workshops and a learning experience. Since the EMPOWER Planning Committee began in 2010, ROTA has trained hundreds of youths who have gained experience and knowledge in video making, public speaking, event management, facilitation skills, social media skills and organising skills.

For more information, visit ROTA’s website.