With 2015 an election year, the Carrick Times hears the views of young people in the borough who are playing a role in the wider community on subjects ranging from whether the voting age should be lowered to the merits of volunteering and helping others.
Erin Tweedie, Downshire School student and Rotary Youth Development Leadership winner
What were the highlights of the year just past?
My highlights were going on an education visit to Berlin about WW2 with the NEELB, passing all of my GSCEs, completing the final leg of my three-way cultural exchange to Italy, winning the Downshire School and Carrickfergus area heats for the Rotary Youth Development Leadership Competition and being the first in my school to ever get to the finals, fundraising to complete a bungee jump for Cash 4 Kids who support children in the local area who are at a disadvantage from everyone else. Also a great achievement for me this year has been winning the Princess Diana Champions for Volunteering Award. This was a massive success and an honour to win.
What attracted you to the Youth Leadership challenge?
Being able to get a step further than everyone else and challenging myself by reflecting on my leadership skills and trying to improve them for future life. I was asked by teachers in the school to apply for it last year, but not getting to the Carrickfergus heats, gave me drive to go for it this year and do the best I can possibly do- achieving a place in the final.
What are your hopes for 2015?
I am going on an educational visit to Poland for a European Conflict project and a visit to Auschwitz to experience a traumatic landmark. I have applied for the International Leadership Programme to be a summer camp leader in America for two weeks. I will be sitting my AS Level exams and hope to pass them and I hope to have more opportunities open up throughout the year as I make my way through it.
What would you like to see from political/community leaders in 2015?
I have seen and experienced the benefits of how young people are funded. Every exchange, opportunity and voluntary work I do has been through a funded organisation. Young people are worth funding and looking after as they are our next generation and if they are well looked after and funded, then the generations to come will be also. However I do feel like we need more invested in young people as in some areas, there isn’t enough to keep us off the streets. We need more opportunities offered to those who may not be involved in a youth club or an organisation. There needs to be more opportunities to those who may get into bother or those who do hang about on the streets, they should be the main target.
2015 will be an election year: do you think it is important for young people vote?
I do think it is important for young people to vote as they are the next generation and elections that take place will affect them more than the generation that will be voting. Young people need to get their say in what goes on in their country for their future and they can sometimes be looked down on by the older generation for having a say, which is not right.
Should the voting age be lowered?
Momentarily, the voting age is 18, I am only 16. For young people to have their say, then yes it should be lowered. However, I am not a major in politics and if I was asked to vote right now, I wouldn’t know what was going on and how it can affect my future life. Young people may not fully understand the affects voting can have as they don’t understand what people are being elected for, so can just vote for the sake of it and making a choice they may regret. I believe for young people to have their say but as a group, and putting if through an adult who can defend the point the want to get across and vote for them to elect the right people.