Young people in West Sussex made their voices heard during a number of debates held for Democracy Day.
The event, which happens once a year, helps to provide a platform for the West Sussex Youth Cabinet to raise awareness of the importance of democracy and the democratic process.
The issues of focus were chosen through the recent ‘Make Your Mark’ ballot, with 46 young people discussing topics including the Living Wage, Curriculum for Life, and Curriculum for Transport.
Members of the Youth Cabinet and UK Youth Parliament presented their arguments for and against before opening up the floor, as part of the Children’s Commission ‘Takeover Challenge,’ to allow the participating young people to share their views.
Students from The Towers Convent School in Upper Beeding, Storrington’s Rydon Community College, St Andrews C of E High School for Boys in Worthing, Lancing’s Sir Robert Woodard Academy, Horsham’s Tanbridge House School, Sackville School, Worthing College and representatives from Mid Sussex Youth Action Council, all took part in the event.
Ellie Clark, 15, from Tanbridge House School, said: “This has helped me to really think about the issues in West Sussex and how we can solve them. I really enjoyed sharing my opinion and debating important issues.“
Maddy Barnes, 13, from Rydon Community College, added: “Democracy Day is a good opportunity for young people to get their opinions out there and to have their views heard.”
Peter Evans, WSCC cabinet member for children – start of life, said: “It’s important for young people to become active citizens and providing a platform for them to have their voices heard is crucial.
“Democracy Day is a great way of allowing young people to talk about issues important to them.”
Following the debates, votes were cast for one of the topics to become a campaign led by the Youth Cabinet, with Curriculum for Life the outright winner.
The day also provided an opportunity for young people to develop their understanding and awareness of Digital Safeguarding and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).
The discussion will inform how WSCC develops a CSE awareness campaign aimed at young people.
It also aided the efforts of the West Sussex Local Safeguarding Children Board, as they look to raise the profile of Digital Safeguarding across organisations, families, children and young people.
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