TO empower, equip and educate – these are the pillars of a new youth organisation that was launched in Port Elizabeth this year to make a difference through community transformation.The United Nations Leadership Academy of South Africa (UNLASA) is spearheaded by Henry Jacobs, who won police officer of the year in Paarl in 1997 for his efforts in combatting gang violence.“I was in the SA Navy, the SA Army and a police officer before emigrating from SA to the USA in 2001. I started this organisation because the youth are important in our society and our future leaders,” Jacobs said.The newly launched organisation is aimed at providing the youth with tools of social responsibility to secure their future.“This organisation aims at informing and making the youth part of important issues. We aim to establish UNLASA chapters in every high school across the country, by birthing it in PE and rolling it out to the rest of SA within 36 months,” Jacobs said.In addition, the goal of the organisation is to teach the youth the skills of effective communication, deep-seated connection, persuasion and empowerment. “Young people have always been left in the dark on issues that affect them directly like unemployment, politics, economic development and global issues. “UNLASA is aimed at empowering our youth to take their place of authority and leadership. “Young people need to be equipped when they leave school so that they can contribute positively to their communities in building a better future where race, creed, language and affiliation are not a barrier,” Jacobs added. High school learners from Grade 10 to 12 will have an opportunity to participate to gain a greater understanding of their role in civil matters, politics, social responsibility and governance. “I’ve always been passionate about matters of our youth and I did not have the platform to take it further. UNLASA gives us that platform. “We have to be the change and also give the youth the vision to uplift their community,” said Munier Ahmed, a member of UNLASA.Learners involved in this organisation are taught to be productive and positive role-models as future leaders of society.“Mr Jacobs came to visit my school and at the end of his talk, I was really inspired. I want to be part of the change. I’m starting a campaign at our school to get more people involved,” said Margeaux Liberty, a member of UNLASA.According to Jacobs, the youth need to gain the necessary skills and knowledge about global governance. “Education and knowledge is power. The youth will stand a better chance of building a strong nation if they know what to do, why they do it, how to do it and when to do it. “The United Nations is committed at ensuring that transparency and inclusiveness is at the centre of our endeavours,” Jacobs said.