Saturday, October 01, 2005

Listening to Young People

Today was a much more cheerful day. We had an event in ARC for young people from across the borough to respond to the ideas in the Youth Matters Green Paper and for Councillors, Youth Workers and Childrens Services officers to listen to them. Although it started as an idea from an officer it grew into something organised by members of the Youth Assembly who took to the leadership role with relish. We played ice-breaker games, expressed our opinions on a number of topics and then had really good discussion groups on themes from the Green Paper. At the end the common complaint was that we hadn't had long enough! Now given that this was from youngsters on a Saturday morning I think it says a lot about how much they want to contribute to life in the Borough.
So - what did we as elected members get out of it? Loads of challenges, that's for sure. We were challenged to really listen, to do some of the things that young people wanted, to let them have more input into how money is spent and where - they really do want to be involved. Now it's down to us to make sure they are, and that the democratic processes really work for them.

I met a young man, 16 at present, who's winning medals at national level in athletics and expecting to compete in Europe next year - an Olympic hopeful from our town for 2012! We didn't know about him - we didn't know anything about his achievements - what sort of a system have we when we know every last detail about GCSE results but don't know we've got a national champion in our midst?

It's not often I enjoy giving a Saturday morning to Council business but this morning was quite exceptional - those young people were an inspiration. I just hope we don't completely let them down.

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