Young People In Politics

Hello teenagers of the 21st century,

POLITICS. I know, yawn worthy right? Wrong. 

Unless you've been living under a rock, you should be very, very aware that in only 8 days time we are having a general election! Meaning that potentially in just over a weeks time we could be sat here in the UK with completely different people in power.

'I should care about that because?', you might be asking. Well, to put that into perspective, depending on who wins the general election next week, the amount of money you have to pay to go to university, whether your local youth club stays open, what GSCEs and A-Levels you can take, the age you have to be to vote (to name just a few), could be completely different! 

During the run up to the election there have been various debates going on which you have probably been aware of. But last night there was a very special and important debate which you probably didn't know about: The Youth Leaders Debate!

The first ever general election debate from young people, for young people. It wasn't broadcast on TV (which is such a shame) rather held online in a hard to reach corner of the Channel Four website, but it was BRILLIANT none the less.

Youth Leaders Debate

Image from Youth Media Agency

Passionate young people from the Greens, UKIP, SNP, Plaid Cymru, Lib Dems, Labour and Conservative all took to the stage in an hour and a half long showdown (like how I'm making this sound really dramatic). 

It was great because everyone in the audience was a young person and all questions were from young people, not a single old man in a suit in sight! Everything we care about was discussed: NHS, Votes At 16, Trident, Tuition Fees, Living Costs, the lot. It was so different to the regular televised debates from the adult leaders, for once there was actually some humour in there, it was fun, refreshing and above all inspiring! 

In this country we have a so many young people that feel really passionately about the world around them, that's AMAZING and something I feel we really need to showcase. Next time I would love to see the youth leaders debate televised. I feel that if it had of been, many more people would've been able to watch it and it would have hugely helped decrease the myth that we are all apathetic about politics! 

If you didn't see it last night the I HIGHLY recommend that you go and watch it. Especially if you're a teenager who hasn't been following the election, as I think it could serve as a great introduction to some of the issues facing young people, and where the different parties stand on them! http://www.channel4.com/programmes/youth-leaders-debate

Now, a lot of you will be under 18 like me, and therefore not able to vote on May 7th. So what can we do to have our say? It's really easy to think that just because you don't have the vote, that you can't get involved in the world of politics. I'm only 13, yet I still do quite a lot for representing young people in politics, so I've complied a little list of things you can do to get involved!

Join A Youth Council / Youth Parliament
This is possibly one of the best decisions I ever made. Some of you may know that earlier this year I stood as a candidate to become a youth MP for my area (Fun Fact: The youth leader for the Greens is a former Member of Youth Parliament!). I was unfortunately unsuccessful :(, however in the process I got to experience a real political election and managed to engage with so many other young people who were all just as passionate about politics as me! I've since stayed on at my local youth council, where I attend monthly meetings and events where I get to tell people about all the issues young people in my local constituency care about, and share my views and opinions!

You might be wondering how you can get involved in such groups, and really it's not difficult at all! Most likely you will need to check your local councils website and check the 'youth activities' section, where there should be contact information for the relevant people you need to speak to. If there's nothing on the website it might be worth giving your local council a ring to see what's up. The only problem might be if your area doesn't have a youth council (most do though!), but this could be a great opportunity to create one of your own! If you can get enough people together and pledge it to your local council, or do it through your school / college then that would be fantastic!

Join In The Conversation On Social Media
I often used to refrain from sharing political thoughts on my social media for fear that I would suddenly be inundated with people wanting to get in a huge argument with me! However once I realised that as long as you're polite, most people are happy to see young people engaging and won't mind having the odd chit chat about political issues!

Another thing which is brilliant is Twitter Chats, they are usually hosted by larger users, last around 30-60 minutes and have the aim of discussing a particular topic or question. They are happening all the time and it's a great way to find other people who are also interested in the chosen topic (this tip can be used for anything, not just politics!). If you have a blog or youtube channel this can also be a good way to engage with possible new readers / viewers (just saying ;))!

For example there was a Twitter Chat hosted by @emilymatters just after the youth leaders debate yesterday which I engaged in. Often Twitter Chats happen right after an event, so it's a good way of seeing what everyone's first impressions of something are!

Use Your Voice 
No, I don't want you to literally stand on top a building shouting through a megaphone! I mean that if there's something that you feel passionately about, there are things you can do to help change whatever it is that you don't like. I'm part of a group at my school called 'Overcoming Injustice' or 'Oi!' for short! We campaign regularly on different topics. Sometimes it's something just in the UK, like the amount of people using food banks (not that this doesn't happen all over the world though), and other times it's about something global, like the awful earthquake in Nepal that happened recently.

Amongst our activities we've been writing to the government every week for just over three years, and you would be surprised with how many responses we get back! A couple of weeks ago we even had a reply directly from David Cameron! This is exactly the kind of thing you could easily set up at your school or college! Our club happens on a Wednesday lunchtime for about 30 minutes: someone writes the letter, everyone attending copies it out and the all get sent to number 10, and as it's student led it practically runs itself! I would be more than happy to write a little post on the exact practicalities of it all if anyone would like to set up a similar group as it's proved extremely effective!

Finally, for those of you who can vote: PLEASE TURN OUT TO VOTE NEXT THURSDAY! Even if you don't agree with any of the parties standing in your constituency, it's better to turn up and spoil your ballot that not turn up at all, that way you're still standing for something!

I realise this post was really long so I hope you managed to take all the information in, but as I said in my last post I really wanted to talk about the General Election and Youth Politics stuff so this was actually a really fun post to write! Feel free to tweet me @sarahzsay or leave a comment below (I practically live online so I will DEFINITELY reply!) and hope you are having an awesome day!

Sarah xx



The 'Perfect' Body

Hello teenagers of the 21st century!

(watch video before reading!)



I've been following Cassey Ho of Blogilates for just under a year, I adore her workouts and she has THE MOST friendly and fun attitude towards healthy living. For those of you who don't have the foggiest who she is (shame on you because she is legit QUEEN), she's one of the biggest youtubers on the fitness scene with just over 2 million subscribers and originally rose to fame with her 10 minute pilates videos (which are super effective and really difficult in a good way - I die).

Cassey has always seemed like such a happy and positive energy, her advice is never anything but encouraging and the the best of my knowledge and research she has never promoted any kind of unhealthy lifestyle. However, in the last week or two I've seen her being hated on a considerable amount. Amongst the various form of hate I've seen 11 minute long videos solely dedicated to breaking down her entire life from diet to exercise regime, even her childhood. There are people calling her diet 'anorexic' (which btw is a very real condition which effects very real people and isn't a term that should just be thrown around), whilst I've seen tweets and instagram comments stating things like "If you're such a good personal trainer, why don't you have a six pack' or 'Eww. Call that a thigh gap, they are practically touching'.

I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like to've worked your butt off to create an amazing fitness community with millions of followers, only to have it all thrown back in your face by a couple of idiots who don't even know you. To the few people out there making these comments: YOUR NEGATIVITY HAS NO PLACE ON THE INTERNET. Opinions? Yes. Insights? Yes. Cyberbullying? No.

It makes me so angry to know that some people think they can do whatever they like online just because no one can see their face. It does not make you 'cool' to send a hateful tweet or post a disrespectful youtube video, it makes you a coward. I bet 99% of people making hateful comments on the internet would never have the guts to say it to the face of the person they are insulting. Cyberbullying is such a huge issue, and one I don't think I'll be able to cover fully in this short post, especially as I want to get to talking about what good has come out of this whole situation. However let me just say this: I have nothing against people having OPINIONS. I'm just asking you not to be ignorant when expressing them.

However, moving swiftly on, despite all this I'm super happy to say that Cassey (being the incredible person she is) has managed to turn all this hate and negative energy into something beautiful and thought provoking. The video above, entitled 'The Perfect Body', is one of the most real and inspiring short films I've seen in a long time.

This whole concept of being able to literally photoshop yourself into 'the perfect body' speaks to me in so many ways. I cannot tell you how many times I've wished I was taller, or had clearer skin, or had smaller thighs. Sometimes I want nothing more than to 'photoshop' myself. But would this make me happy? Probably not. The things that really make me happy are the small and simple things: like my best friends, a big bowl of ben and jerry's, or a particularly good episode of Doctor Who.

Even at age 13, I've battled with coming to terms with my body type and the way I look. I've had to accept that I will never be tall and skinny like a model, rather I will always be curvier - and that's okay!

I don't think anyone is ever 100% happy with the way they look, it's just human nature. There has been a bit on controversy in the comments of the video as to whether Cassey was implying that her goals are to lose weight due to the 'what would you change?' tagline, however I think the video was intended to just serve as a creative way to express how sometimes peoples comments can get to you so much you end up feeling like you need to change who you are in order to make the haters happy.

As teenagers we're constantly under pressure from society to constantly meet expectations. We're expected to have this perfect balanced life with good grades, friendships, socialising, studying, out of school clubs and increasingly the pressure to look perfect. But let me tell you a little secret: perfection does not exist. There, I've said it. Perfection. Does. Not. Exist.

You're never going to be amazing at everything, but you will be amazing at something that no one else is. It's unlikely that you will ever love everything about yourself, but that doesn't matter because you are you. Even though perfection does not exist, happiness does. So that's my final advice for today:

Do what makes you happy.

If you want to change something about yourself, do it because it's what you truly want it for yourself. Dye your hair purple if that's what makes you happy. Completely change your wardrobe. Start jogging. Do it. But do it because it's something that will make you happy, not because some idiot on the internet said you were looking a bit chubby.

Thank you for reading all the way to here and I'm so sorry if this post wasn't of the best quality and got a bit rant-y, I just had a couple of things to get off my chest! In the comments tell me one thing that you WOULDN'T change about yourself!

Love you all,
Sarah xx:)






Lessons Learnt From A Day Of Silence

Hello teenagers of the 21st century (and other passers by!),


Yes you read the title right. Sarah Trott, aka one of the most annoyingly talkative  people you will ever have the pleasure (or displeasure I suppose) of meeting didn't talk for AN ENTIRE DAY. If you read my blogpost from a couple of weeks ago (this one: http://www.sarahssay.com/2015/03/huge-mega-update.html#.VTFqFVwrjzI) then you will of noticed that I said that I'd be going silent today as part of the 'We Are Silent' movement founded by Free The Children. So that's exactly what I did...

The idea behind this campaign is to raise a voice for the voiceless. You go silent for a day to raise awareness for an issue you are particularly passionate about about. That might be that 60 million children aren't in school, the fact that 13.1% of people are hungry yet 33% of food is wasted, that the 200 Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped a year ago still haven't been found, or something else you feel strongly about. I decided to simply go silent for every child that doesn't have their voice listened to (this is Article 12 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights Of The Child).

Today I learnt a lot about the importance of my voice. This quote from Malala really sums it all up: "WE REALISE THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR VOICES ONLY WHEN WE ARE SILENCED." That really rang true for me today in both a literal and metaphorical way. I spent the day having to communicate via whiteboard or hand gestures during my lessons at school. Once communicating became so much harder and time consuming, I felt as if I had to make every word count.

I didn't quite realise how much I talk in everyday life, and after a few hours of not talking I started to feel slightly distant from my peers. It's almost like you are invisible, people know you don't have a voice so they don't talk to you. This isn't necessarily a bad thing for someone like me who is often in the middle of everything happening, but it gave a unique metaphorical insight into what it's like to be voiceless.

This whole experience has made me really think about how privileged I am to of been born into a part of the world where I am allowed to have thoughts and opinions, where I am allowed to have creative outlets like this blog. I spent a lot of my silent time thinking about how I can use the fact that I do have a voice within society to be able to help those who don't. It reminded me why I started this blog and why it's so important for our generation to speak out. We are not a dumb, selfie stick carrying, don't care what's going on in the world bunch of idiots. We are the internet generation, but we are a generation of change. We must harness the power of social media, blogging and youtube to make our voice count.

I hope this has inspired some of you to take action on an issue you are really passionate about. I give you the challenge to tweet me @sarahzsay and tell me what issue you want to campaign on, COMMIT TO CHANGE!

Love you all and speak to you soon,
Sarah xx