UK councillors, ministers to be shadowed for youth initiative

By Rob O’Brien

A major initiative to engage young people in public office has been launched recently in the UK with an eye on creating leaders for tomorrow.

The Youth of Today, a major youth leadership programme for young people aged 13-19, was launched by Prime Minister Gordon Brown to inspire and develop leadership in communities.

The initiative offers young, aspiring community members opportunities to train and nurture leadership skills with sitting government ministers and councillors.

According to its website, The Youth of Today is offering opportunities to young people, who are having to deal with huge global challenges on a local scale.

“England’s young people face new kinds of social challenges in a more complex world – a world that is more diverse, with increased pressures on families, greater caring responsibilities (including for the young), more intense pressures from markets, and employability and skills challenges,” its website states.

“Yet, in many communities, talent continues to go to waste. Thousands of young people face acute difficulties in making the transition to adulthood. Public perceptions of young people – reinforced by media portrayals – are often negative, and position young people as part of the problem rather than the solution. At worst, they are viewed with fear and suspicion.”

UK Communities Secretary John Denham said governments had an uphill battle to overcome disenfranchisement in communities.

“As a society, we have a duty to seek out and nurture the talent of our young people,” he said.

“We need to increase the opportunities for young people to be involved in politics and Government – bringing it alive for them and tackling the cynicism that is currently out there.”

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