Overcoming Challenges

Hi guys!
As some of you might be aware, recently I've stood for election into the UK Youth Parliament, an organisation that allows its 600 elected members (all 11-18 year olds) to use their voice and passion to create positive social change. If you are elected as an MYP (Member Youth Parliament) you get to campaign on the top five issues that get picked every year in a houses of commons debate, as well as your own personal manifesto. You can find out more about their work on their website: http://www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk

The reason I want to talk about this now is because we had the results evening for my area (Dorset) last Thursday. I wasn't elected, and although I am gutted (I've wanted to be an MYP for over two years) the four MYPs that were elected are so so deserving and will do an incredible job! For those of you in Dorset your new MYPs are Lucy Armstrong and Jack Dunne. Their deputies are Crystal Lily Mills and Grace Van Zyl. 

But I want to take this chance to talk about challenges. I am still so pleased at how far I managed to get in the election process, I was against young people four or five years older than me who come from schools with over 1000 students voting for them. My middle school with only 300 pupils eligible to vote seems tiny in comparison. And yet I still managed to receive 3681 votes! The turnout was 17,500 and there were eight candidates. 

During the last few months I've met some incredibly dedicated young people and made some amazing new friends. Every person I talked to about my campaign was so supportive and it's a real testament to the fact that young people do care about changing the world for the better. It was a fantastic experience to be involved in such a large election, and it's given me the opportunity to develop so many skills like public speaking, debating and using social media to campaign. I've also become a member DYCE  (Dorset Youth Council Enables) through standing for election and I am already involved in several projects that I'll be talking about in my upcoming posts! 

On the topic of projects and campaigns, all hope is not lost for my manifesto, which is to campaign to reduce instances of bullying by creating a county wide anti bullying policy. On Thursday evening I met the Children's Services Director for Dorset County Council who is interested in working with me and the rest of DYCE to help roll out my campaign anyway! There is also an idea that this blog will start to become a sort of hub for all the work DYCE is doing. Expect some guest posts from my fellow DYCE members in the next few months! 

So despite not being elected, it's looking like I'm going to be in for a pretty busy year anyways! But on a side note, I don't want anyone thinking that I've given up on becoming a Member of Youth Parliament! As I said before I've wanted it for over two years, ever since I found out about the organisation. You just watch out for me next year; I will be standing again with twice as much determination!;) 

The moral of this post is to not give up on your dreams. Whatever you're trying to achieve, keep going! You will certainly have set backs along the way, but if you want something bad enough you'll find a way to make it happen. Stay strong, keep positive! 

EDIT: I received the nicest letter from my grandparents this morning telling me to not give up on my dream of becoming Member of Youth Parliament. They managed to sum up everything I've been thinking far better than me, and I just want to share this quote from the letter: "Coping with knocks along the way is hard, and it happens to all of us, but these can be very positive experiences and give us the resolve, strength and determination to reach our goals." That is so true, and I think we can all learn from our setbacks and use them to make us stronger individuals in the long run. I hope everyone is having a fantastic day and remember to follow me on social media to find out more about everything I'm doing! 

Instagram: @sarahzsay
Twitter: @sarahsmiles789

P.S. I've got a super busy week coming up so it'll be blog post heavy, I won't say too much yet but some it is really exciting, and I mean REALLY exciting!:)

Our Voices Matter: Youth Voice SW Convention 19/02/15

Hiya everyone!
Today I was delighted to attend my second Youth Voice South West Convention in Taunton. They happen every 6 weeks or so, and it's a great chance for passionate 11-18 year olds to come together to discuss campaigns, get updates on the work other people are doing and chat with friends from other parts of the South West. Young people from all different roles were there: we had D/MYPs, Young Inspectors and even some Young Mayors (links to the websites of those groups will be at the bottom of the page for anyone interested!).

The morning half of the agenda was kindly led by Natacha Tagholm from First Buses, who came to collect young peoples views on the bus services currently operating in the South West. We found that young people living in rural areas and those living in city environments are facing quite different problems. Rural teens are more concerned about the price of fares, buses not being on time, and lack of frequent buses altogether; Whereas teens living in more urban areas are worried about CO2 emissions and traffic jams.

However one issue that we are all really keen to address is the relationship between young people and bus drivers. One DMYP had already run a workshop in her local area where bus drivers and young people had to swap places for the day, e.g. a young person would be 'driving' and selling 'tickets' and the bus drivers would be the passengers. The feedback from this day was really interesting - we learnt that both parties are quick to make stereotypical judgments without getting to know individuals. Bus drivers described young people as loud, rude, disrespectful,  unorganised and rowdy, and young people were quick to assume that all bus drivers are grumpy, old fashioned, patronising, ignorant and unhelpful. We are all keen to make changes to our public transport a priority campaign and I am already working with some other people from my local youth council to create an educational pack aimed at year 7 pupils who will be using the bus for the first time (but more on that another day!).

I could probably talk all day about the need for better public transport services, especially in rural areas, but I'm going to leave it there because this is already getting super duper long and I haven't even talked about the afternoon agenda yet! After some lunch (including the famous youth parliament brownies which are just about THE BEST THING EVER) we welcomed some guests from various different organisations to discuss the living wage and work experience opportunities. 

We did carousel style disscussions with small groups of us talking to each guest for around 10 minutes before moving on. We debated on: The different plans the Tories vs Labour have for combatting youth unemployment, In-school careers advice, Should work experience be compulsory for all schools and young people's thoughts on the living wage. Many interesting, and in some cases controversial, points were raised and it's fair to say that some groups gave the guests quite a grilling (not in a bad way I promise!)! 

It was a really great day and living proof that young people do care about politics, and we want to have our voices heard! On that note, a quick reminder for anyone who'll be 18+ by the General Election in May, MAKE SURE YOU GET REGISTERED TO VOTE! It's quicker and easier than you probably think and allows you to have your say on how the country should be run. There's a great website http://www.leagueofyoungvoters.co.uk that's specifically for young voters and remember to tell your friends to get registered too. Even posting a link on your social media to the aforementioned website could be the difference between someone voting and not voting! Sassy links are below and have an amazing day! :)


Hello World :)

Welcome to my blog everyone! To be completely and utterly honest with you all, I have no idea if I'm ever going to make anything of this blog, but I've had a lot of thoughts going round in my head recently and this might just turn out to be the perfect way to vent them all to the world. Besides, I have lots of ideas for posts and I really do enjoy writing. 

As for what content you can expect to find on here, it will probably just be whatever comes into my mind. But just so you know what your getting yourself into, some background information on me is probably in order.

My name is Sarah (you probably got that from the blog name anyway) and I am 13 years old. Some of my more 'normal' interests would include things like reading, writing, drawing, cooking and running. However, one thing that I have become extremely passionate about over the last 2-3 years is the voices of young people. And by that I mean the right every under 18 year old has under Article 12 of the Untited Nation Convention on the Rights of the Child to have their opinions heard by adult decision makers. I don't really remember how I first found out about the issues that face the worlds children and young people, both in first world countries and developing countries, but what I do know is that it sparked something within me to start speaking out against things that I think are wrong. I am a part of several groups that help young people to get they're voices listened to, but that's another story for another day.

If anything was to become of this blog, I would want it to become place that teenagers and young people could come to when they needed advice or somewhere to talk about issues that are important to them. 

These posts will probably range from fairly light hearted topics to more serious problems, but I promise you that I'll always be writing from the heart. On a side note, if you don't like something I have to say, please could you either exit the page or leave me a polite comment stating what it is you have a problem with. I never mean to cause anyone offence. 

Thank you if you managed to read all the way to here without getting too bored!