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The Year Of Young People 2018 is going to be #BRAW

The Year Of Young People 2018 aims to inspire Scotland through its young people, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating opportunities for them, writes Elaine Kerridge

I am very excited about the Year Of Young People 2018 (YOYP2018), particularly because it has been designed and developed by children and young people since planning started in 2015.

With my fellow Policy, Projects and Participation (PPP) team colleagues I have enjoyed preparing for the year with our partners Young Scot and Scottish Youth Parliament by supporting the children and young people at the heart of the co-design of the year, including the members of Communic18 and the 500+ Ambassadors across the country. I have found the young people's commitment and enthusiasm infectious and genuinely awesome.

There are going to be many great events and opportunities for young people throughout the year; some big and bold on the national stage, others smaller and quieter at a local level. What they all have in common is the opportunity for children and young people to participate and have fun.

One of the objectives of the Year Of Young People 2018 is to provide a platform for children and young people to have their views heard and acted upon, so they can influence and have a greater say on public services and decisions which affect their lives. This participative approach (Participation is one of the six themes of YOYP2018) is, for me, a key part of the year and one I hope will play a major role in creating the legacy from the year.

When reading Together's State Of Children's Rights In Scotland 2017 report, I reflected on the Year Of Young People 2018 being "an excellent opportunity to further progress integrating children and young people's rights into every aspect decision-making, policy and practice" because "a rights-based approach can make a significant difference to children and young people's lives". Together’s #RightsResolution campaign calls for local authorities, health boards, local councillors, schools, the police, social work and more to make a commitment to further children and young people's rights in 2018.

Being a Doonhamer by birth (a person from Dumfries), I was proud to read in the same report about Dumfries and Galloway Council's child rights approach to its Year Of Young People Plan. This included a strategic group, co-chaired and attended by the Youth Steering Group, and a consultation with 18-25 year olds on youth opportunities and experiences they would like to see in the region as part of the year. Importantly, it also considered the challenges or barriers to participation for the region's young people. A variety of creative methods were used to engage with children and young people including a mobile youth centre and arts and crafts.

Part of the Dumfries and Galloway Year Of Young People Plan is a 'signature event' called 10,000 Voices, to hear the views of 10-25 year olds on issues affecting them and their communities. This will then inform a five-year strategic plan for young people's services. Thus a clear legacy from the Year Of Young People 2018 will be created, shaped by and impacting on children and young people across the region.

We have our own Children in Scotland project running throughout YOYP2018, aiming to broaden the participation of children and young people in heritage experiences. It is also a chance for our heritage partners to develop their own participative approaches, learning from children and young people and engaging with them at all stages of their project work (from planning and development, through inclusive and engaging delivery, to evaluation). I am looking forward to sharing more of this project as it develops. I believe it will provide a great opportunity for children and young people to express themselves, showcase their talents and it will be a platform for them to have their views heard and acted upon.

As the Year Of Young People 2018 kicks into action, I know it is going to be a positive year of opportunity, celebration and fun for children and young people across the country because it has been designed and will be led by children and young people.

I am especially looking forward to the legacy of YOYP2018: a Scotland where children and young people have their views heard and acted upon, where they influence and have a greater say in public services and decisions which affect their lives

The Year Of Young People 2018 is going to be #BRAW!

Elaine Kerridge is Policy Manager (Participation and Engagement) at Children in Scotland.

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