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Young Scots set to take over parliament

This news post is about 7 years old

Event gives young Scots their say on pressing issues affecting their lives

Young Scots from colleges across the country will take over the Scottish Parliament’s debating chamber on Friday to discuss issues affecting their lives.

Your Scottish Parliament, aimed at 16 -19 year old further education students, will provide a platform for young people to have their voices heard on topics from bullying to moving from school to college.

As well as a live Q&A session in the debating chamber with the presiding officer, the students will have their say on a number of issues that MSPs are currently debating.

One will centre on how to encourage younger people to vote in local council elections, an issue which is being examined by the local government and communities committee.

Presiding officer, Ken Macintosh, who will chair the session in the chamber, said the parliament wants young people to know that their voice matters.

“For many students attending Your Scottish Parliament, they may be at a turning point in their lives when they’re considering what to do next – there may even be some future parliamentarians,” he said.

“But whatever path they choose in the future, as they approach adulthood we want them to know that the Scottish Parliament is open and here for them.”

A panel of inspirational speaker will take part in the ervent, two of whom are young people who have overcome barriers to make a difference in their communities.

Rachael Wallace (pictured above), who is 26 years old and is from Alyth, is one of the speakers on the panel. Rachael, a PhD Law student at the University of Dundee, has cerebral palsy. She is currently petitioning for the establishment of specialist services on the NHS for adults with the condition.

She said: “I’ve come across various challenges in my life. My condition means I’m a full time wheelchair user but this has not stopped me from being successful and doing things I’m passionate about.

“I started my own public petition to speak up for those with cerebral palsy who can’t. Because of my petition, this important issue is being discussed at the Scottish Parliament and I believe it will help to improve care for adults with cerebral palsy across Scotland in the future.

“I hope my experience inspires younger people to make the most of the Scottish Parliament. At the end of the day, it’s everyone’s Scottish Parliament and there are lots of opportunities to have your voice heard and make a difference.”

And Ross Foley, who is 17 years old and is an elite para-badminton player from Dalkeith, will also appear on the Your Scottish Parliament panel.

Ross said: "I have a type of dwarfism called achondroplasia. In the past, I used to feel quite low about my disability. I found that some people stared and laughed at me in public, which got me down. It also sometimes stopped me fully taking part in group sports in school.

“But I then joined a badminton club in Musselburgh, and that’s when I discovered that I was pretty good at it. It’s really built my confidence and taught me that my disability doesn’t have to hold me back. I’m now improving my badminton skills each week, and I hope to make it to the Paralympics in 2024.

“I’m really looking forward to speaking to people my age at Your Scottish Parliament. The main message I want to get across is that, despite challenges in life that many of us face, anything is possible with a positive mind set.”

Your Scottish Parliament takes place on Friday 24 March 2017.