By: Niamh Mannion
Young people are often framed as disengaged from the political landscape. Today’s youth are painted as disillusioned from the political debates that will shape their future. However, 2018 looks set to challenge this stereotype with the founding of the Welsh Youth Parliament.
From 1999 to the present day
In 1999, following the establishment of the National Assembly for Wales, dedicated youth engagement services were founded. Since the millennium, youth engagement services have worked with thousands of Welsh children and young people. Youth services engaged young people in a range of topics. These ranged from political debates de-mystifying the inner workings of The Welsh Assembly.
In 2014, the National Assembly for Wales signed a youth engagement charter. The charter ensures that the voices of young people in Wales are listened to and positive change is made to causes they care about. Since the charter was signed, there were increased calls to found a Welsh Youth Parliament. In fact, Wales was the only European Nation without a youth parliament.
In October 2016 Assembly Members agreed to a Welsh Youth Parliament. 5000 young people in Wales were consulted concerning the future aim, membership and overall direction of the parliament.
What happens next?
2018 marks the start of The Welsh Youth Parliament. It’s a super exciting time to be a young person in Wales!
60 young people (aged 11-18) from all over Wales will be elected to sit in the youth parliament. Members of The Welsh Youth Parliament will identify, debate and bring awareness to issues that impact young people. And you could be one of them! You can apply to stand for the Welsh Youth Parliament from the 3rd September 2018 until the 30th September 2018. Find information on how to stand in youth parliament here: https://www.youthparliament.wales/stand/
You can also make your voice heard by voting! If your aged 11 to 18 and live or are educated in Wales, you can vote to elect members of your youth parliament. Voter registration is open from 28th May 2018 until 16th November 2018. Find more information on registering to vote here: https://www.mi-nomination.com/wypregister/form/landingpageenglish
Elections for the Welsh Youth Parliament will be held from the 5th November 2018 until the 25th November 2018. The exciting election results will be announced at some point over December 2018!
Empowering Young People
The founding of The Welsh Youth Parliament is a fantastic moment for young people in Wales. Not only will Welsh Youth Parliament empower the voices of young people, it will empower democracy as a whole in Wales.
Welsh Youth Parliament will ensure that the voices of young people from around Wales and from a multitude of backgrounds will be heard. This new chapter also gives Wales an incredible opportunity to listen to the young people of today, who will shape the future of Wales.
The new youth parliament will be symbolic of improving the lives of young people, in turn improving their collective futures and Wales as a whole. Here at WCIA we applaud all future participants of The Welsh Youth Parliament and the positive change it will bring to the lives of young people in Wales.