By Rajan Foster and Kathryn Boerckel, Arlington Teen Ambassadors of the Co Lab’s SDG Hubs

In July of 2023, a global teen led delegation from the Arlington based Global Co Lab Network attended the United Nations High-Level Political Forum (UN HLPF) in New York City to amplify teen voices in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  Both of us from Arlington were lucky to join!  We spent five days attending various meetings, general assemblies, and side presentations in regards to SDGs #6, 7, 9, 11, and 17. We had a blast listening to delegates from organizations across the globe while also getting opportunities to share our own thoughts and experiences.  The HLPF was an amazing opportunity to engage in the work being done to implement the SDGs around the world and learn how we, as youth, can continue to promote their sustainability and success.  See our teen colleague Hailey from St. Louis present at one of the HLPF sessions on science and technology here!  While there we also finished filming our teen created documentary highlighting teen engagement with the global goals and hope to show the documentary in Arlington schools and across the world to get more teens engaged with the SDGs.

Rajan Foster, Teen Ambassador, SDG Hub on Mental Wellness 

I remember being amazed at even the possibility of attending the UN HLPF the first time Linda mentioned it to me. The feeling of awe was only heightened from the first moment we arrived at the building itself. The trip was fantastic from a variety of angles. Meeting and getting to spend a week with an inspiring, engaged group of both teens and mentors alike who I had only previously seen over zoom immediately comes to mind as one of the best aspects. Beyond that, another obviously special aspect of the trip was the time spent at the HLPF itself, whether it had been at side meetings where we got to listen and ask questions about pressing issues facing the world, massive meetings in the General Assembly room with delegates from 6 continents, or our own meetings in beautiful spaces presenting about the CoLab’s efforts. The trip was unforgettable, both in the form of memories made, and long-term connections with the people I met.

Kathryn Boerckel, SDG Teen Ambassador, Racial Justice

One of my favorite parts of the UN HLPF was the opportunities it gave me and the other teen delegates to engage and network with organizations around the world. The HLPF went beyond the realms of an ordinary forum event: we got countless opportunities to discuss the SDGs and the work being done to support them with passionate representatives of all ages from countries including Mexico, China, Ukraine, and more. Not only did we attend countless side meetings and general assemblies in which we listened to speakers discuss prominent world issues regarding the SDGs, but were motivated to ask questions and connect with speakers. Walking away from the HLPF, I took with me not only a stack of business cards, but a meaningful connection to a global network of changemakers who are committed to the SDGs. 

Join Us!  The Co Lab plans to send a larger delegation of teens to the HLPF next year.  We will be recruiting teen changemakers across the USA and world in the coming months!  For more info see