Council awarded for reaching out to young people
A project that encourages primary school children to become councillors for the day has been nationally recognised, due to its innovative approach to youth participation.
Chichester District Council is one of five organisations chosen by the British Youth Council to receive its prestigious 'innovation award'.
Primary school children from across the Chichester District spend the day at the council every three to four months. They create their own political parties, manifestos, rosettes and banners and then take part in mock elections.
They also hold a 'big debate' on council services or local issues ranging from 'should we have dog licences' to 'what activities should the council provide to encourage healthy living'.
Before they attend, the schools research their topic, ready to debate the issue in the council's chambers - where they eventually vote for their preferred option. This is chaired by one of Chichester District Council's councillors.
The focus of the day is to understand the work of the council and help them to understand how decision making works and the democratic process. The visits have provided the children with valuable skills including listening to the views of others, asking questions, making challenges, and reaching decisions. Officers from the council also use the opportunity to ask the children for their views on the key issues that matter most to them.
"It's wonderful to work with local school children and help them to understand how local democracy works. They also come up with some fantastic ideas. Over the past year some of the children have presented their manifestos through plays, songs and even a rap!" says Cllr Janet Duncton, Cabinet Member for Housing, Planning and Community Safety at Chichester District Council.
"We are delighted to have been recognised by the British Youth Council in this way. We hope that initiatives such as this will encourage young people to get involved in their local community - and perhaps encourage them to become a councillor one day."
The Youth On Board Awards celebrate organisations, projects and individuals that support youth participation in innovative and exciting ways. They mark the fantastic achievements that can happen because young people are supported and involved. There are four award categories and entries are judged by young people on the British Youth Council's board of trustees.
Rosina St James, 21, Vice Chair of Participation and Development at the British Youth Council, says: "We were incredibly impressed with the standard of entries received for the Youth On Board Awards. All of the winners demonstrate just what can be achieved when young people are supported to get involved in projects and organisations. The judges identified some fantastic examples of new and innovative ways of supporting youth participation - and I hope that by highlighting these through the awards, other organisations will follow in their example."
Date: 26 April 2012