I attended phase 3 of the Civic Engagement in Schools programme presentation last Friday where a group of year 10 Students from Suffolk New Academy, Stoke High and St Joseph’s College had been working together on a Civic Engagement activity.
There were several events where they learnt how democracy works and exploring how they can effect change in their local community, including a trip to Westminster with Ben Gummer MP. One of the lead up events was to help them speak in front of people and on that occasion I was there as a pro bono trainer to coach them on being confident..
But if we go back a couple of years, it was under my portfolio that I introduced Cheryl Phillips who is the leading officer on this project, to endeavour to form a youth council or at the very least encourage young participation. Young people are often consulted with but there is a huge difference between consultation and actually participating so I really looked forward to seeing the 3 presentations from the mixed school groups.
First up was a wonderful idea to create an amphitheatre at Gyppeswyk Park near the Red Rose Chain building in Birkfield drive. They envisaged that this could be 'the next best thing' and that the venue would be used for bands, comedians, plays and joint ventures with Red Rose, who have already shown their interest.
Last up was another good idea, regarding a space within Maidenhall Sports Centre for a Hang Out where young people could play games, eat food and participate in themed nights. A membership fee would be sought to cover costs etc.
But my favourite was the second presentation and one that could have fantastic potential, called Appswitch.
I had remembered these young boys on the training day as bright, enthusiastic, passionate and capable and they didn't let me down. What fantastic speakers and I laughed out loud when one Ben Lockwood said 'If this is what I can do in a day, imagine what I can do in a month'. Oh how my coaching mind loved that one!
The other team members were (and apologies if I've spelt your name wrong as I know you are waiting to read this blog!)
Tom Beardwood, Kieran and Charlie Heal, Adam Broadbear - between them they have created an app for Ipswich. I told them afterwards that they could do this all on their own and actually just needed some support from techie experts.
They will have at least one customer as soon as its launched, as I'm really looking forward to downloading it onto my Ipad.
Well done to all the pupils. They were a great example of bright young things that have a bright future. Their parents and teachers would've been proud.