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Prepare For Government! - Parliamentary Training For Teen Leaders
Thursday 2nd February, 2006

Prepare For Government! - Parliamentary Training For Teen Leaders
Use Your Vote: Outgoing MYPs Michaela Neild (left), 16, and Natasha Abbott, 14, are urging young people to get involved with the National Youth Parliament.

The cut and thrust of politics is coming to Wigan's Quality Hotel this weekend when young people from across the borough will take their first tentative steps along the corridors of power.

Each year the borough appoints a number of representatives to the United Kingdom Youth Parliament (UKYP) following a hotly contested election campaign.

This process begins on Sunday (February 5) with a special training day for all young people who are interested at the Quality Hotel on Riverway.

The UKYP is a national body of democratically elected young people aged from 11 to 18. Members meet regularly at local level and regionally with councillors and MPs and once a year as a full UK wide parliament.

There are no political parties, no shadow cabinet or Prime Ministers in waiting. But like Westminster, members belong to different select committees looking at important issues.

The aim of the Youth Parliament is to: "raise awareness of what constitutes politics and citizenship and how they are universally accessible to every young person as a democratic right…"

Current MYP Michaela Nield is full of praise for the project. She says: "Being involved in UKYP and Positive Futures has opened up opportunities I didn't know existed. I've been to London and met the borough's MPs and been able to question them on different issues."

"In November I went to Brussels and helped with some workshops around the subject of teenage pregnancy.

"I've been mentioned in the House of Commons. It's changed my outlook and I am now taking a different career path and hope to study politics at Cardiff University.

"I feel I have learned a lot and that now when I speak to adults they have more respect for my opinions. I have a great time and have had lots of fun along the way."

The event in Wigan is organised by youth workers with Positive Futures - which is soon set to become part of the council's new Children and Young Peoples' Services (CYPS).

Youth Participation worker Angela Wood, who organises the event says: "We are hoping to change the way we run the elections this year.

"Any prospective candidates are being invited to attend the training day that will give them information about UKYP. They can tell us what their expectations are and we will tell them what we expect of them and what kind of commitment they would be taking on.

"We are also going to get them to write their election speeches on the day which we then hope to put into schools, libraries and the council's Connexions centres so that young people can vote for a candidate."

Angela added: "It's a really worthwhile thing to be involved in and any young people aged from 11 to 18 who are interested are welcome to come along on Sunday between 11am and 3pm for the training day."

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