Developing Connection with Conwy Youth by Ava Morgan
“If I had 30 seconds to impress upon the youth of America the importance of voting, I would tell them, quite frankly, that it’s the only way you can make your voice heard”
said Zacc Hayward, with the Conwy Youth Council.
TEA students met with the youth council to see how the youth impacts political decisions in Wales. The youth council, aged 11-25, had worked for years in imparting their community through spreading awareness with mental wellness and the impact of drug and alcohol use, as well as pushing for a larger voice for youth in the community. We were presently surprised by how much more they knew about America’s government than we do, as well as their knowledge concerning the U.K.’s government and everything that surrounds it. They were open to sharing their thoughts on how their government is being run and its impact on their everyday lives, as well as sharing their ideas on how they can make their government better.
Although all of their answers and personal emotions towards these subjects varied, they seemed understanding of those who differed from their own opinion and listened further to their reasons as to why in order to reach a consensus. We discussed American affairs with the members of the council, as well as their own country’s affairs, and dove deeper into what really goes on in each other’s countries. We were able to learn about how their government works in Great Britain and how it differs greatly from how we run things in America.
“I found that the Conwy Youth Council was much more knowledgeable and well-read in their country’s political affairs than many of the youth back in the United States. It seemed that the Welsh youth, that we spoke to, were mature enough to cast a proper vote.” - Hunter Vegh
We also listened to a presentation given by Ceri Morgan, the youth engagement officer. She spoke on how the Welsh Assembly and Government were trying to include youth into voting and hearing their voice and what they’ve been doing the past few years to make a difference in Wales and the rest of the U.K. There are parliaments for each country in the U.K., which means that each place in the U.K. are fairly independent of each other. Wales is fighting for a bigger role for the youth population and are attempting to follow the role of Scotland by lowering the voting age.
Their first steps are by making a Welsh Youth Parliament, in which they will register to vote and elect assembly members, ages 11-18. It will be put into action this year and will have elections at the end of 2018, and the assembly will be completed by next year.
Although the voting age has not yet been lowered to 16, the youth parliament will still have influence over the decisions of Welsh leaders.
The Parliaments in each country in the U.K. are similar to the state representation in the U.S. We were inspired by the Conwy Youth Council’s ability to affect politics in Wales. We quickly realized that the youth in America can impact the political decisions made in our states.