Three young people have been elected to represent the views of thousands of others throughout North Yorkshire on the UK Youth Parliament (UKYP).
The UKYP is run by and for young people and gives those aged 11 to 18 opportunities to use their voice to improve the lives of their peers and communities.
Evie M Stevenson, Kitty Jackson and Eden-Maia Shackleton were elected as Members of the Youth Parliament (MYPs) by their peers at the first meeting of the North Yorkshire Youth Voice Executive, which has been established by North Yorkshire County Council to bring together Youth Voice groups around the county.
Voice groups represent the views of young people from diverse backgrounds across North Yorkshire, including looked-after children, young carers, children of armed forces personnel, LGBT groups and local youth councils.
Evie M Stevenson, 16, is from the Selby area and attends All Saints’ Roman Catholic School Sixth Form. She will represent the central area of the county, based around Northallerton, Richmond and Selby. Evie said: “As a young individual myself, I increasingly observe both the restrictions and ignorance that minors within our country receive on a daily basis. As an MYP I aim to take down these prejudices, and make sure every individual within my constituency is listened to.”
Kitty Jackson, 14, attends Scalby School and lives in the Scarborough area. She will represent the east, around the Malton and Scarborough areas. Kitty said: “As a young carer, my main focus will be on raising awareness, speaking out for the many young carers in our area, and making schools and organisations more aware of the impact being a carer can have on children, positive and negative.”
Eden-Maia Shackleton, 16, attends St John Fisher Catholic High School, Harrogate, and lives in the Ripon area. She will represent the west, around Harrogate and Skipton. Eden-Maia said: “The voices of young people and being able to raise awareness and tackle issues young people face today is something I feel greatly passionate about. I am very proud to have been elected and want to do my utmost to make the most positive impact I can while in my term of office.”
Deputy MYPs were also elected. They are Shannagh Strudwick (central), Alexander Wright and Dylan Kennedy (east) and Ella Bridgett-Tomkinson (west). The MYPs and DMYPs will serve two-year terms.
North Yorkshire County Council provides a dedicated manager to support the MYPs, for example helping to arrange meetings with officials and accompanying them to meetings, as well as financial support.
Pete Dwyer, Corporate Director for Children and young People’s Services, said: “Being an MYP is a really exciting opportunity. The elected members will have the chance to get involved in many great activities, including meeting MPs and local councillors, organising events, running campaigns, making speeches and leading debates.
“But the most important aspect of any MYP’s job is to make sure they represent the views of young people in the county.”
In the summer, MYPs from across the UK will meet to debate and vote on policy at the UK Youth Parliament Annual Sitting. In November, they will attend a sitting in the Houses of Parliament where they will debate topics they wish to campaign on.
MYPs are politically neutral and each will effectively represent 25,000 to 29,500 young people within North Yorkshire. Across the country, there are more than 600 MYPs and DMYPs. More information about the UK youth parliament can be found at www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk.