Pupils from Selsey Academy have been tackling a range of important community issues as part of the town’s first ever Youth Conference.
Twenty pupils from across the school took part in the event, organised by Chichester District Council’s Youth Engagement Team. It is part of the successful Ideas into Action programme which works with schools to foster pupils’ interest in local democracy by encouraging them to engage in community issues that they feel strongly about. The conference was the first of its kind to take place in the town and was held at Selsey Town Hall on Friday 24 November.
Pupils formed ‘Political parties’
The pupils have formed ‘political parties’ and each one has identified an issue to focus on:
- The Generation Union Party: Healthy Living For All
- The ESCAPE Party: Mental Health Awareness
- The Road Recognition Party: Road Safety Awareness
- The BEST Party (Business Education of Selsey Trust)
The groups are being supported by a number of partners who will act as mentors to the pupils and help them to develop their ideas over the next month. These include the council’s Economic Development, Community Safety and Wellbeing teams plus Sussex Police and the local branch of the charity MIND.
The conference was an opportunity for the parties to meet their mentors and partners, share and develop their ideas. They also enjoyed a practical session on presentation and public speaking skills and in the afternoon got the chance to take part in a question and answer session with a local councillor. The groups were then asked to develop their party manifesto.
“The conference day was great fun and a brilliant opportunity to evolve our ideas and find out what is and isn’t possible,” says Harry Benham from the Generation Union Party.
“I had a great day finding out how a little idea can turn into something big and have an influence on lots of people,” says Paris Hilton from the BEST Party.
“I really enjoyed talking to lots of people at the conference, and I’m looking forward to the Vote For Me day,” says Libby Morton from the Escape Party.
Vote for Me day
Following the conference, the groups will hone their ideas and present their manifestos to the whole school as part of Vote For Me day. The rest of the school will then go to the polls and vote for their favourite party. The winning group will develop their idea further to make it a reality, with help from the community and extra funding. The other ideas will then be taken forward by a series of Youth Ambassadors.
“I am looking forward to the Vote For Me Day,” says Maisie Smith from the Road Recognition Party. “I think it will be a fun opportunity to stand up in front of people to present our ideas”.
Pupils involved have come up with an exciting variety of ideas:
- The BEST Party: wants to run a business education day teaching people about setting up a business and providing financial advice. This would involve running a trial school based ‘pocket money’ day and then organising a second event which would be open to the wider community.
- The Road Recognition Party: wants to raise awareness of road safety on the Manhood Peninsula. This would involve a poster campaign and organising a cycling safely day with a cycling proficiency challenge to get as many children as possible to take their cycling proficiency test and creating opportunities for people with disabilities to try cycling in safe spaces.
- The ESCAPE Party: wants to establish a safe space support group to raise awareness of mental health issues around the Manhood Peninsula and using social media and a website to put people in contact with experts and those going through similar experiences.
- The Generation Union Party: plans to hold a social event to bring young and old people together and promote safe and healthy lifestyles. This would involve a buddy system between the young and old and organising a beach barbecue with healthy options, first aid and CPR training and beach safety demonstrations from the Royal National Lifeboat Association (RNLI).
“This was a fantastic day and was completely led by the young people taking part,” says Councillor Eileen Lintill, Cabinet Member for Community Services at Chichester District Council. “The conference was a great success, bringing citizens of the future together with their local representatives and giving them the confidence to ask questions and find out more about how to move their ideas forward. I am sure the next stage will be just as exciting and I look forward to seeing how each party progresses their ideas ready for election day.”