No matter your age, get involved in Year of Young People

Discussion days...were held across the country, including at Stirling University where interim planning group members asked their peers for their views.
Discussion days...were held across the country, including at Stirling University where interim planning group members asked their peers for their views.

Unless you’ve been living in a bubble for the last few months, you’ll know 2018 is the Scottish Government’s Year of Young People.

But it might surprise you to know that planning for the year started in 2015.

Rachael  McCully, who has been involved in the year since the outset, hopes the legacy from 2018 will see young people being properly listened to in future.

Rachael McCully, who has been involved in the year since the outset, hopes the legacy from 2018 will see young people being properly listened to in future.

The main aim was to ensure that young people were truly involved in all events, rather than just paying lip service to that.

As a Scottish Youth Parliament member, Rachael McCully was keen to get involved.

And she was delighted to be appointed to the interim planning group, later named the Communic18 team.

Rachael (21) said: “There were 18 of us initially, aged from eight to 26, from communities all over the country.

“We were tasked with speaking to hundreds of young people – from every corner of Scotland – about what they wanted from the year.

“We developed discussion days, held in the likes of Dynamic Earth, Hampden and Stirling University.

“We wanted to ensure young people felt listened to and included – that they could have a direct input in their own year.”

From those discussions, the group developed six key themes (see panel below) and submitted a report to the Scottish Government about how the Year of Young People 2018 should be shaped.

To take forward these ideas, Communic18 was created – a group of 35 young people aged from eight to 26.

Their role is to influence how the year will be run, while ensuring young people’s voices are heard and acted upon.

Rachael, who is now part of the Communic18 group, said: “Young people did not want their year to be tokenistic.

“One of the recurring themes that came from the discussion days was that young people wanted adults to truly listen to them.

“So part of our role is to make sure that every event planned this year has young people at its heart.

“We ensure young people are involved in the decision-making process, the design, organisation and running of the event.”

In addition, more than 500 ambassadors have been appointed in every local authority area in Scotland.

Their job is to promote local activities and create opportunities in their own communities to challenge negative stereotypes of young people.

Rachael said: “We initially thought there would be around 200 ambassadors but the volume of applications blew that out of the water.

“Young people wanted to be actively involved so more than 500 ambassadors have now been appointed.

“Our ambassadors are the friendly faces of the year whose aim is to get people on board in local communities.

“Their goal is to get all ages involved so they’re doing a lot of cross-generational work to try to get rid of some of the stereotypes associated with young people.

“People often talk about young people being the future but they forget we are here, right now!”

The youngsters are also keen to ensure that, once this year has passed, they are not forgotten either.

“One of the most important things for us is making sure there’s a legacy from the year,” Rachael said.

“So where young people are now part of local authority groups or panels, we want their voices to continue to be heard.

“Young people often feel adults only listen to them as part of a box-ticking exercise.

“But we hope the legacy from 2018 will see young people being properly listened to in future.”

MyStory365 will see a different young person’s story featured each day on the YOYP website, which will help showcase the diversity of young people today.

And the Create18 Fund, powered by Young Scot on behalf of EventScotland, will see more than 40 events being organised this year by young people to showcase their talents and abilities.

Some £42,000 will be distributed to groups to host everything from fashion shows to Lego build days – so there’s truly something for all ages to enjoy.

In round one, 22 teams were successful; round two applications closed on January 22 with another 20 projects set to get funding.

Rachael, from East Kilbride, added: “The year is not just about young people.

“We want all ages to get involved and to feel part of the celebrations.

“Events will showcase young people’s talents but will also help to get people of all ages involved.

“We’re still very much at the start of the year but we’ve been inundated with people who want to get involved, which is really encouraging.”

A full list of events and how you can get involved in your own community is available on the website http://yoyp2018.scot.

Young people at heart of the year’s design

The journey started way back in 2013 when Scotland’s former First Minister, Alex Salmond, first announced 2018 would be the Year of Young People.

In 2015, the Scottish Government commissioned three youth organisations – Children in Scotland, the Scottish Youth Parliament and Young Scot – to directly engage young people to co-design the Year of Young People 2018.

Activity for the year is based around six key themes, all developed by young people.

* Culture – Share and celebrate young people’s talent and contribution to Scottish culture and arts.

* Enterprise and regeneration – Celebrate young people’s role in innovation, entrepreneurship and the Scottish economy as well as making Scotland a greener and more pleasant place to live.

* Education – Allow young people to have more say in their education and learning.

* Equality and discrimination – Recognise the positive impact of young people in Scotland and encourage them to take the lead in challenging all forms of prejudice and discrimination.

* Health and well-being – Make sure young people have the chance to lead healthy, active lives and understand the importance of mental health.

* Participation – Give young people the chance to influence decisions that affect their lives.