Youth Councils Resi!
I went to the Somerset in Care Council (SiCC) and Somerset Leaving Care Council (SLCC) Steering group on Tuesday. The groups are really getting going, with training residentials, visits to forums, DVD production, posters, cards, meetings with the Corporate Parents Group and organising the Annual Achievement Awards. Phew! For more information, Contact Catherine Newberry (very helpful person - 07585 983356) who can tell you lots of things, including how any interested young person in or leaving care can get involved with the group.
Kirstie Brown - Senior Youth & Community Worker
I've just seen the Somerset Children's Trust first newsletter - it keeps members updated on what other relevant issues between meetings and this first ever issue features the UK Youth Parliament!! UKYP has long been a consultation group for the Children's Trust and its good to see their contribution being valued and promoted. Hurrah SCT!!!
Kirstie Browm - Senior Youth & Community Worker
Smoke Free Somerset
Smokefree Somerset Alliance are promoting grants of up to £2000 for young people to produce resources to encourage young people to stop (or not start) smoking
Click here for more information
What's extra good about this is the grant givers are also young people - the UK Youth Parliament (who already make grant decisions on Youth and Community Group Grants, Youth Bank and have been involved in commissioning) are adding this to their work programme. Well done them and well done the Smokefree Somerset Alliance!
Young People Volunteering
I feel hugely passionately about promoting self-confidence in our upcoming generation, by encouraging young people to engage more within their communities- through charity work and volunteering. Therefore I am running a campaign "Young volunteers- stronger communities"
For the next few months, I am working on researching into why young people do/do not volunteer! I am currently conducting HERE . So please do take a look! We plan to then develop a workshop to deliver in local schools and colleges to promote and inform young people on what they can do!
Young people do often get bad press, and by getting young people to engage in more positive contributions to their communities, will have a "win-win" effect. Young people will be helping others but also banishing any negative stereotypes people have of young people! Whilst also gaining valuable and necessary life skills! Our current curriculum does not have the capacity to allow young people the chance: to learn how to work in teams, to learn how to organise events, to learn how to manage money or manage their time and the list just goes on! This is something Youth Parliament feels very passionately about.
Youth Parliament's national devolved campaign this year is a "Curriculum for Life" This November, my fellow MYP's and I travelled to London to sit in the House of Commons and debate on what our national devolved and reserved campaigns would be. The Curriculum for Life campaign was hugely popular and gained enough votes to be the majority and got voted in as our National Campaign. I loved every minute of the experience. Words cannot describe how privileged I feel to have had the opportunity to represent the voices of young people in Somerset. The debates were exciting, inspiring and full of passion! We filled the House of Commons with enthusiasm and charisma and the quality of the debates and speakers were both phenomenal. I was immensely proud to be a part of it all.
I am proud to represent the views of young people in Somerset, and would like to say a huge thank you again to everyone who voted for me.
Contact me via twitter: @ellencollardmyp or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
Disaffection in Young People
Sam Foulder-Huges recently made a speech to a local Rotary Club meeting about the disaffaction of young people, it is well worth a read. Thank you to Sam for sharing this excellent insight with us.
When water is no longer 'good for you'...
Recent studies have discovered that a 500ml (18fl oz) glass of some brands of bottled water contains 15g (0.5oz) of sugar, the equivalent of four teaspoons of sugar. These are not your conventional bottled waters, that we all love the refreshingly icy taste of, but in fact they are a new craze of 'vitamin and enhanced waters'. We all crave a quick health fix, enticed by the thought of a miracle quick and easy cure. But when does worrying about our health become too extreme? We are just falling victim to media fuelled business ploys, designed to get us to buy overpriced objects to 'help' our numerous ailments.
Nowadays, you can buy vitamins for almost everything: one for your nails, your skin, your hair, your age and now even your gender. What happened to a good ol' 5 a day? Our society choose to pay hundreds of pounds on formulated drinks, yoghurt and tablets which are designed to do what most nutritious meals do at a fraction of the cost. We all love a quick fix. Its true, we are in a world where things are readily at our fingertips we can just place a meal in the microwave and then take our vitamin tablets and be done with it. Will we one day just not have food? Will we just live off a tablet once a day filled with all the nutrients we need? Okay maybe a little extreme. I'm forgetting one vital element of food- taste. We all have a food we love. A melting oozing chocolate cake, a tender and succulent roast or a Saturday night takeaway. We would never ever chose a pill over those things. But we choose supplements over fruit and vegetables any day.
This leads me onto something else which bothers me, studies about our health. Every single day we are faced with a different fact or statistic that contradicts the one released last week or the week before that. But where does it all end? I am baffled by whether eating little and often throughout the day is good, or whether 3 good solid meals are good for you,or whether we should be eating a big breakfast and then a smaller dinner, or should we be adding salt to meals, should we be eating organic foods...blah blah blah. Where does it stop? How are we meant to live healthy lives when to be quite frank, the media is tossing and turning on what's good and what's bad. Why can't the media just refrain from posting these studies and focus on the absolute certain facts about health? This way people are more likely to actually stick to these health changes, rather than being enticed by these numerous fad diets, and lead good healthy lives.
Well, I come to conclude that when water is no longer 'good' for you, we should all just turn to the good ol' 5 a day. Can't go wrong with fruit and vegetables... or can you?
MYP Ellen Collard
Changes to cigarette packaging
Will plain cigarette packaging really
make a difference?
We've all seen the horrible pictures of some blackened lungs and corroded livers flaunted on most cigarette packets; advertising death threat slogans- 'smoking kills'. But has this made any difference?
The government has called for an independent review of cigarette packaging in England to take action to discourage young smokers.
What are young peoples attitudes to smoking? Perhaps smoking has become 'cool' for some young people, something to show rebellion against their parents and something to portray their individual right to 'do whatever they want'. This is a natural response for many young people, exploring their right to develop as individuals and learn about the big wide world out there. I personally do not believe that having plain packaging will prevent this.
Plain packaging will make the cigarettes look less appealing to young people. In the image conscious society we are growing up in, this seems a logical and worthwhile action. However, I question firstly: how many young people go into a shop and buy cigarettes straight from a shopkeeper? Firstly, it is illegal for under 18's to buy them. And secondly, young people are still buying them even with the rising costs soaring. And I personally believe young people are more likely to be put off by the cost of something than the look of the packaging.
Young people will find a way to explore this rebellious streak in any capacity- whether that be through smoking, alcohol or sex. Young people need education to support the idea that 'smoking kills' but in a less forceful way. For a young and agile person, death is miles away from their minds. Young people cannot relate to 'death' and throwing shock tactics down their throats, has not worked. Young people need real life accounts, more links with the elderly community who are actually real life victims of smoking related illnesses portraying their stories. This will reach out to young people more effectively because as humans we like to hear about other human experiences; we all thrive off each other and rely on each other to learn, grow and develop.
Young people also need distraction; they need a focus to channel all their youthful energies into. This can come in a wide variety of forms, but I believe the key is extra curricular activities and work experience. How can young people be expected to gain work experience for their chosen profession if there is very little help available? Recent cuts have meant lots of young people don't have access to a decent careers advice/many work experience co-ordinators no longer exist. Many young people don't know how, or who to go to about work experience and this needs to change. The government cannot just expect young people to stop smoking and engage in positive activities, without giving them the support and chance to do so.
This is why I believe that plain packaging is not the answer.
My Taunton Whistler
It has become common knowledge that many young people, both men and women, suffer with self confidence about their body image. There is a lot of awareness about the effects of this: Self harm, weight issues, depression and many, many more.
We're constantly fed images of perfection, or rather society's ideals of ‘perfection'. Stereotypically we think of women being the victims of this social pressure, however it is becoming more and more of a male problem. With a rise in male icons, there is an increasing amount of pressure on young men with regards to what they should look like and wear.
I recently experienced an event that really made me think about my own image.
After a considerably messy art lesson, despite wearing an apron, I had managed to get white acrylic paint all down myself. Jumper and jeans covered. In the session I had also been using charcoal, and for anyone who has ever handled it will know the black smudge goes everywhere; and it did.
Every evening after college I meet my mum in Taunton town center. Realizing the time, late as usual, I rushed out the college gates.
Whilst on my journey to town I realized what a scruff I looked like. With the added ‘dragged through a hedge backwards' hair that the wind had kindly styled for me. I truly looked like a scarecrow.
As I continued walking a group of about 5 girls began to walk behind me and I was convinced whole heartedly that their laughter was aimed at me and the way I looked. I refrained from turning around, just in case.
I was almost at my destination when I heard it. The most beautiful whistling I'd ever had the privilege to hear. I turned around and looked to see who was making such an uplifting sound. After briefly looking, I couldn't see who it was so sat down.
As I sat on the bench the whistler walked passed me. He was a grey old man, shuffling on at a steady pace with a dog by his side. Still whistling.
There was something about this man that just seemed over joyed, full of autumnal spirit.
It was then I realized how much of an idiot I had been. Here I was so concerned with what I looked like and my image, and there was a man who was full of happiness unable to see his.
I'm not encouraging everyone to go out wearing their art lesson on their clothes; but I am encouraging everyone to maybe think, ‘is image everything?'
Here is the website for: The Guide Dog UK charity for the blind and the partially sighted.
MYP for South Somerset
NEW Benchmark Scheme