St Albans Teenagers Put A Twist On Politics

PUBLISHED: 11:14 16 January 2010 | UPDATED: 14:50 06 May 2010

WHAT do you get if you cross a group of teenagers with committee room one at the district council offices? Boredom? Anarchy, even? Not in this city. For writing constitutions, popularising politics and plenty of debating was on the agenda for the St Alban

WHAT do you get if you cross a group of teenagers with committee room one at the district council offices? Boredom? Anarchy, even? Not in this city. For writing constitutions, popularising politics and plenty of debating was on the agenda for the St Albans Youth Council (SAYC) on Monday night (11).

Encouraged by my sister and youth councillor Elise, I decided to delve deeper into the world of the SAYC and after work on Monday (11) I took my place among 10 teenagers - and one 20-year-old - at the SAYC's monthly meeting.

I must confess that I judged this book entirely by its cover and assumed that I'd be faced with fed-up teenagers whose pushy parents had goaded them into joining the SAYC for the sake of the CV. On the contrary, I was met by one of the liveliest and most enthusiastic groups of young people I have ever come across.

Armed with reams of documents and an agenda to follow, the set-up was the same as a full cabinet meeting but, thank goodness, this quirky crew sure knew how to spice it up. First item, the Harpenden Youth Council and their intriguing idea to give this year's Summer Sounds music concert a Political Education theme.

"That's never going to work!" laughed James and Jess - how on earth can you fuse politics with a groovy gig? But instead of dismissing the idea completely, the SAYC took it on as a challenge and thus followed a lively discussion about how best to trick teenagers into politics. New member Ben's idea of planting a trail was well received, although Josh's suggestion of catching kids with a giant butterfly net was deemed too extreme.

The SAYC have their own constitution and they have been asked to help Redbourn Youth Council write their very first one. Almost everyone volunteered to help, even before Alex let slip that it would involve a weekend away with the Redbourn lot at an activity park. The SAYC seemed chuffed to be asked in the first place, and some of them immediately began jotting suggestions down in their notebooks.

When we weren't gorging on sweets and fizzy drinks, the rest of the evening was spent discussing the SAYC's Political Education Project - how to make politics appealing to the youth of today - and deciding on a target age group. After much putting it to a vote, Years 9 and 10 were decided on, so if you are 13 or 14 and you live in the St Albans district, the SAYC (and maybe their giant butterfly net) will be coming to convert you soon.


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