Sunday, 30 June 2013

In the words of Whitney...

A friend of mine recently invited me to enter a competition she has been running through her blog at the Speak Out, Reach Out, Camp Out project. The aim – to speak out about something you are passionate about.

Anyone who has followed my blog over the last few months may have worked out that there are a lot of things I am passionate about – ending violence against girls and young women; talking about depressionvolunteering; Girlguiding...

But I've written about these things already, so instead of repeating myself, finally after weeks of brain-dusting, I found my inspiration.

Whitney Houston.

I'm not passionate about Whitney (although there is something about The Bodyguard that I can't quite get over... Probably Kevin Costner).

No, the thing I have realised I am passionate about is the power of young people.

(Bear with me for the, albeit tenuous, link).

When I was asked to attend the United Nations as a youth delegate with WAGGGS earlier this year, I had no idea how I, one person from the UK, was going to be able to stand up and represent ten million girls and young women from all over the world. And even if I could do that, how on earth was I going to convince global decision makers that what we had to say was worth listening to?  Somehow, and I'm still not entirely sure how, as part of an incredible team of young women, we were listened to. The voices of ten million girls and young women were heard by world leaders, and as a result we were recognised internationally as a force to be reckoned with.

This experience really made me think about the power of young people.

This week, the Scottish Parliament voted to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in the 2014 Scottish Referendum – the first time ever that young people will be allowed to vote in a national referendum in the UK. I think this is incredible and awesome; firstly, because a lot of young people in Scotland got involved and pushed forward the campaign for votes at 16, and I really think they showed just how passionate they are about having their voices heard; and secondly, in the passing of this Bill, Scotland recognises that young people are worth listening to, and is really leading the way in doing just that.

Over the last few months, it has dawned on me that, as young people, we do have the ability to actually influence decisions, and I hope that more young people start to get involved. As adults, we need to provide young people with the safe space and the confidence to realise that their voice is as important as anyone else's.

In the words of the late great Whitney, “... the children are our future; Teach them well and let them lead the way...”

Need I say any more??

Update: Click here to read all of the other entries to this competition.

You can vote for your favourite entry here - voting closes at 10pm (BST) on Sunday 7th July, so please vote now!!

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