Tackling racism and religious discrimination is a key issue for young people in West Sussex.
Students spoke passionately on the subject as part of Democracy Day, when 57 young people aged 11 to 18 gathered to discuss the issues which mattered to them the most.
Worthing High School, The Towers Convent School in Upper Beeding, St Philip Howard Catholic School in Barnham, Rydon Community College in Storrington, Hazelwick School in Crawley, West Sussex Alternative Provision College and West Sussex Young People’s Service were all involved.
The annual meeting was part of a takeover challenge hosted by West Sussex Youth Cabinet and provided a platform to raise awareness of the importance of democracy and the democratic process.
Kelly Balmer, UK Youth Parliament representative for the South East Procedures Group, said: “Encouraging young people into politics is vital. West Sussex’s Democracy Day enabled them to do so and see the effect they can make.”
She opened the event in Horsham with Stephen Hillier, West Sussex County Council’s cabinet member for children - start of life. Both spoke of the importance of young people becoming active citizens.
Mr Hillier added: “I was very privileged to go along to an event where young people were openly passionate, while admirably articulate, about the issues that affect them.
“There were a number of issues which were hotly debated - adding life skills to the curriculum, improving mental health services for young people, and tackling racism and religious discrimination.
“Their enthusiasm was infectious and hopefully, as a group, we can tackle some of these issues head on. We are already making sure these discussions are fed back to county council’s children’s services to help us inform the design of current and future provisions.”
The issues discussed were chosen through the national Make Your Mark ballot, in which 18,302 votes were cast in West Sussex.
There were also workshops which looked at designing the new sex and relationships digital curriculum services, and creating resources to build young people’s resilience to online radicalisation and extremism.
To find out more about the Youth Cabinet in West Sussex, visit
For more information on the UK Youth Parliament, go to www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk
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