Three teenagers are taking their first steps in politics in a race to become the voice of young people in Middlesbrough.
The first ever ballot takes place next month to elect Middlesbrough’s next Member of the UK Youth Parliament (MYP).
Alexander Fishlock, 15, Ben Rowden, 14, and Ryan Housbey, 16 are the three candidates who are vying to join the UK Youth Parliament.
The successful candidate will have the chance to make the young people of Middlesbrough’s voices heard from Middlesbrough Town Hall to the Houses of Parliament.
The MYP will meet with MPs and local councillors, organise events, run campaigns, make speeches, hold debates, and ensure the views of young people are listened to by the powers that be.
The UK Youth Parliament was launched in the House of Commons in July 2009 and held its first sitting in February 2010 in London.
The three candidates are now working on their manifestos, putting together posters and candidates booklets and preparing for three weeks of campaigning in the run up to the election on February 23. Polling stations will be placed in schools and youth centres.
Alexander Fishlock is aged 15 and attends Macmillan Academy. His three priorities are to allow young people to express their views, to get young people involved in events through school and to offer opportunities to new and exciting events to every young person.
Alex said: “I think sometimes it’s hard for young people to express themselves and get their views across to other people.
“I want to enable young people to express their views freely through school, youth clubs and other forums.”
Ben Rowden is aged 14 and attends King’s Academy. His three priorities are to campaign against negative stereotypes of young people, fight for more youth facilities for young people and work with local business and entrepreneurs to find solutions for more apprenticeships and jobs for more young people in the area.
Ben said: “We are living in a time of prejudice towards young people but I believe 99% of young people are good people who are passionate about what they do.
“If I was elected as a Member of the Youth Parliament I will work with young people to get their views expressed to the people in power.”
Ryan Housbey is aged 16 and attends Acklam Grange School. His three priorities are to find young people ‘Somewhere to go and something to do’, promote young people in a positive way and bring young people and the community together.
Ryan said: “As a young person I find it very hard going out on a night time when you have nothing to do. I want to make a change and give young people somewhere to go and something to do.
“If you give young people positive activities then something positive will come out of it.”
Councillor Len Junier, Middlesbrough Council’s Young People’s Champion, said: “We have got three excellent candidates who are hoping to become Middlesbrough’s Member of the UK Youth Parliament.
“It’s huge credit to them that they are willing to put themselves forward and give up spare time to help improve things for young people in the town.
“They each have strong views and I’m sure they will all make their mark in the election campaign.
Cllr Junier added: “The UK Youth Parliament is a great way to help engage young people in politics and democracy.
“It also plays an important role in getting politicians and people in power to listen to what our young people are saying and making sure their views are genuinely taken on board.”
Middlesbrough will be holding the UK Youth Parliament Elections on 23 February 2012.