Giving young people a voice

Since having our first meeting in October 2017 (see first 620), the 15 schools we  have worked with have impressed us with  the progress they have made in the community projects we discussed less than three terms ago.

We have gone from having two representatives from each school council to hosting all 200 members, with them barely fitting into our theatre alongside parents, governors, teachers and my colleagues from all parties.

“even the youngest students, aged six and seven, can find their voice and play an active and important role in society

Projects included a magnificent video by four schools in Chorleywood, which featured the students talking about a controversial project to build a playground on the common – the first time children had a voice in this long-running saga.

They also included litter picking, visiting and working with elderly people, and lots of debates and discussion in the form of videos, slideshows and presentations.

Our aim was to do as little talking as possible, and let the students and their projects talk for themselves. It became clear that even the youngest students, aged six and seven, can find their voice and play an active and important role in society.

We all know young people are the future, but only when we gave them a platform did we realise how undervalued their role is in society. Every session needed to be cut short as the questions were endless, and the students’ excitement provided inspiration for us all.

At the end, when councillors from all parties came on stage to take questions, I was acutely aware that – while we represent the local authority to them (and often our parties to each other) – they represent the future to us. We must involve them more and empower them to lead us. After all, they inherit the world from us, and we must give them a voice now.

For more information, please follow Cllr Alex Michaels on Twitter @MrAlexMichaels

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