As part of Universal Children’s Day pupils from eight schools across Wales visited the National Assembly for Wales to debate some of the key issues which are relevant to the lives of young people living in Wales.
The debate, which took place at the Ty Hywel chamber on Wednesday, 20 November, was part of a scheme launched in partnership between S4C, ITV Cymru and the National Assembly for Wales to give young people a taste of politics and democracy at work.
In the debate, which was chaired by Hacio presenter Catrin Haf Jones, nearly 50 young people between the ages of 16-18 were given the opportunity to discuss and share their views on subjects including cyber bullying, the Welsh language and young people’s involvement in democracy in Wales. Following the discussions pupils then voted to agree or disagree with a pre-written motion on each topic through the chamber’s electronic voting system.
Leading up to the debate at the Assembly S4C arranged discussion sessions at each individual secondary school prior to the final event at the National Assembly.
“It went very well and we had some very good discussions on a number of important issues,” said Elis Roberts, 17, who is a sixth form pupil at Ysgol David Hughes in Menai Bridge on Anglesey.
“I think these days young people don’t know how they can make their voices heard. I think it can be unclear to people how they can contact their local politician which means people have to do quite a bit of research to get their views across.”
Brychan Davies, 17, a pupil at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman in Ammanford believed the debate was a valuable experience:
“I really enjoyed the debating as it was a chance for us to put our points across and get people in the Assembly to listen to us,” he said. “We are the future so our views are important when deciding what goes on in the country.
Following the debate the pupils were given the opportunity to meet several assembly members and ask their questions to them directly before going on a grand tour of the Senedd.
S4C’s Director of Communications, Marketing and Partnerships Garffild Lloyd Lewis said:
“We set out to arrange a scheme that would really benefit our young people by introducing them to the value of debate in our democratic system and giving them an insight into how it all works.
“I think the hundreds of young people from across Wales have been given important experiences as a result of this scheme and we hope that they can now be more confident about the need to get their voices heard.
“I can only congratulate the young people who’ve taken part both in the schools and at the National Assembly – their contributions have been really constructive and it has been a pleasure to see their enthusiasm to find answers to some of our society’s most pressing issues.”
The schools that took part were:
• Ysgol Maes y Gwendraeth, Llanelli
• Ysgol Dyffryn Aman, Ammanford
• Ysgol Gymraeg Llangynwyd, Maesteg
• Ysgol David Hughes, Menai Bridge
• Ysgol Maes Garmon, Mold
• Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy, Llanrwst
• Ysgol Bro Pedr, Lampeter
• Ysgol Bro Ddyfi, Machynlleth