THE NEWLY elected Welsh Youth Parliament will meet for the first time tomorrow to discuss issues such as mental health, climate change and safer transport.
Of the 60 members, 40 were elected in an online ballot at the end of last year, and a further 20 were chosen from organisations and charities.
All 11 to 18-year-olds in Wales were eligible to vote, with around 13,000 registering to choose from 480 candidates.
Elin Jones, the Assembly’s presiding officer said: “Through dialogue and through sharing ideas, momentum grew behind the principle that the young people of Wales, should have democratic representation from those who are the same age and who understand the issues that are important to them.
“Now that the idea of creating a Parliament has come to life, the business of representing young people’s views and interests begins in earnest.”
Ahead of tomorrow’s historic meeting, we caught up with the Youth Parliament members representing Cardiff:
Gwion Rhisiart – Cardiff Central
“I will be holding regular meetings with my constituents, as well as online questionnaires to hear their voice. I will be fighting for their voice in the Youth Parliament.”
- Apprenticeships/jobs for young people
- The Welsh Language in schools
- Standard and safe school transport
Betsan Roberts – Cardiff North
“I believe that it’s important that we as young people have a voice. I am willing to have my say and raise my voice for those who may be too shy to do so for themselves.”
- Education about the LGBTQ+ community
- Lowering the voting age
- Cycling safety on the roads
Rhian Shillabeer – Cardiff South and Penarth
“Issues which I aim to bring to light are issues that concern you not only as a young person, but as a young person in Cardiff. Education, living standards and the Environment are three of the many important topics that are imperative to discuss.”
- Betterment of the Environment
- Improved Living Standards in Cardiff
- Importance of the Education System
Manon Clarke – Cardiff West
“I’m a member of the school council and I’m also the deputy lead of an anti-homophobia, biphobia and transphobia group in school. I believe the opinion of someone aged 11 to 18 is just as important as any other member of society.”
- Litter in public places
- Period poverty
- Adolescent mental health
The meeting comes just a week after a bill was put forward by the Welsh Government proposing to lower the voting age to 16 in Assembly elections.
During their first Plenary session in the Siambr (Senedd debating chamber), each member will have a chance to say what subjects they think the youth parliament should focus on.
This will be followed by a vote in the afternoon to decide on their priorities for the next two years.
You can keep up to date with all the action from the Youth Parliament on their Twitter.