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Young people to air their views at UCount2 10 November 2011

YOUNG people will discuss issues affecting them at the Youth Service’s annual UCount2 conference.

The event takes place on Sunday 20th November at Cronk-y-Berry Primary School’s Youth Wing and involves around 40 over-13s who are members of the Youth Service’s 60+ clubs and projects.

The event, the fifth of its kind, will be hosted by the young people and will allow them to discuss issues that are relevant to them with their peers and shape opinions to present to decision-makers who have been invited along, said Ken Callister, Principal Youth Officer with the Department of Education and Children. UCount2

Young people have chosen to discuss discrimination of young people in relation to the five topics of employment, accommodation, transport, leisure and education.

‘Workshops and discussion groups will give participants the opportunity to explore their views and challenge each other’s opinions,’ Ken said. ‘What is produced will then be put together and presented to the whole group, including the invited politicians, at the end.’

Ken said the formula had worked well in the past.

‘Our concerns that young people won’t want to turn up to a school building on a Sunday afternoon have never materialised. Young people have always voted with their feet and supported the event,’ he commented.

In 2009 the Isle of Man Government launched its first Children’s Plan, effective until 2012. Consulting young people on services provided for them, and how they might be improved, and involving them in decision-making were cornerstones of the plan.

‘Young people are surprisingly good at coming up with ideas to improve things and are able to take a realistic and pragmatic approach to finding solutions if we give them the opportunity to be taken seriously,’ Ken said. ‘It’s about citizenship in action and getting young people actively engaged in helping to make the Isle of Man a better place for all of us.
‘Young people have the right to grow up and enjoy everything our fantastic community has to offer without being burdened with the worries we adults carry around. It’s a big enough challenge getting through adolescence in one piece. But part of the growing up process involves learning about and taking responsibility, looking after each other and being respectful. By becoming involved in events such as UCount2, and the growing number of other opportunities the children’s plan has created for them to help shape the services adults provide, they develop new skills which in turn are put to good use.’

After last year’s UCount2, held on the theme of ‘Who listens to us?’, Eddie Teare, then Minister for Education and Children, said:

‘I found the views expressed by the young people very informative as they enabled me to see their issues through their eyes. They felt that their voices were not heard and that they were overlooked by politicians.’

Last year’s UCount2 even led to the creation of the first all-inclusive Youth Council, which began meeting in the spring of 2011.

A film of this year’s event will appear on the Youth Service’s website.

The Youth Service works with young people aged eight to 25 and runs 66 clubs and projects over 90 sessions each week. For more information, visit https://www2.sch.im/groups/iomyouth/

Photo: Left to right Orlaith O'Mahoney, 17, Sam Galley, 15, Leanne Prescott, 17, Danina Parpala, 15, Joe Kane, 14, Rebekah Craine, 12, Sam Cooper, 18, Chelsea Lewis, 16, who have been invited to UCount2

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