It is so often said that young people have no interest in politics nowadays but a group of Manchester school kids are proving the world wrong and getting down with democracy during their half term holidays.
City centre based youth charity RECLAIM challenged 40 young people – aged 12-13 years old (Year 8) – to create their own political parties to pitch to five councillors at Manchester Town Hall.
Two groups of 20 children spent two days at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Birley Campus learning about the policies of the main political parties battling out at this year’s general election.
They were then encouraged to come up with their own party name, slogan, logo, main policies and a budget.
TEAMWORK: The kids worked in groups to create their political party slogans and policies
On the second day of the programme, each group worked with a professional filmmaker for an hour to create a promotional party video.
The charity’s Youth Engagement Manager Joe Amos explained that getting kids interested in politics was important for the future.
He told MM: “We believe the concept of democracy needs to be introduced earlier.
“RECLAIM sees the poor representation of working class people in political leadership positions as detrimental to society, and we want to encourage our young people to aim high.
“They can be the change they want to see in society.”
The Unity Party, The Achievers and The People’s Party were just some of the political groups that the young people created.
They advocated for change in a variety of areas from smaller classroom sizes in schools to addressing sexual harassment of young girls, police brutality and creating a more sustainable planet.
Olivia, one of the participants who formed The UAI (Unite as Individuals) Party, said: “The best bit of the event was presenting our party to the councillors! It was scary but exciting at the same time!”
Aaliyah, another participant, added: “I liked working as a team and researching our policies. I think we came up with some great ideas!”
With the elections coming up in May, many organisations are working with young people aged over 18 to ensure they vote.
However, a lot of the young people of that age don’t have a basic understanding of politics, or any interest.
The evaluations from the young people showed that almost 90% of those who attended said their understanding of politics increased substantially.
The councillors were impressed by the policies suggested by the kids’ parties, with councillor Suzanne Richards saying she was ‘wowed’ by their creative ideas.
THE FUTURE OF POLITICS: If they get involved young people ‘can be the change they want to see in society’
RECLAIM Leadership Lead Georgia Rigg, who organised the event, believed that it had been a beneficial experience for everyone.
“Working class teenagers are the experts in their field,” she told MM.
“They know better than most politicians what real issues young people face, especially working class people young people.
“We really stressed this point to them.”