WHILE many teenagers are out meeting friends or at the cinema, Rosie Lord is turning her hand to politics.
Rosie, 16, a pupil at Dr Challoner’s High School in Little Chalfont, was recently elected as the South Bucks and Chiltern member of UK Youth Parliament, with a 58 per cent majority of votes by pupils in the two districts.
The Youth Parliament was set up in 1999 to give young people a forum in which to bring about social changeand for 11 to 18-year-olds to raise their peers’ concerns when they meet MPs.
When Rosie’s politics teacher first suggested the class apply, she had no idea what it would involve.
“My politics teacher said it was a great opportunity. I didn’t know that much about it, but I turned up to the training day. It was really fun and I ended up on the shortlist.
“Then I had to make a mini manifesto, which I had to video so it could be shown to all the schools in the area.”
Every school that screened the videos acted as polling stations, with pupils voting for their preferred candidate.
“It was great when I was voted in, along with my two deputies. We have a meeting every fourth Tuesday and I get to go to parliament twice a year to talk to MPs and raise my constituents’ concerns,
“I’m so glad I did it. It’s such an opportunity. We’re planning on focusing on spreading the word about the Youth Parliament – if no one knows who we are, how can we represent them?”
From changing people’s views about the younger generations to encouraging more teenagers to vote, Rosie is full of ideas for her term in office.
“We want to increase political participation of young people and reduce apathy.
“The schools that voted are getting democracy awards in bronze, silver or gold, based on how many voted. My school, Dr Challoner’s, got a gold award so I was pleased about that.”
As an MYP, Rosie will take part in debates at two sittings in the House of Commons, at which the young politicians can talk to members of the government about the issues they care about.
She said: “We need to better the name of young people in society.
“We’re seen as unambitious and lazy, but we’re not. We are the future generation, and we need to change the bad name we have.
“One suggestion I made was to look at promoting volunteering schemes to young people. If we’re doing something good, it could change how people view us.
“The student riots showed that young people do have an interest in politics, they just went the wrong way about it.
“Politics is not just about the men in suits that we see on television, it’s really about discussions that affect all our lives. I can’t wait to show people that and, with two years in office, I can really follow my projects through.”
Although Rosie is uncertain where her spell in local politics will lead, she is happy to have been given an opportunity to try to make some changes.
“For now I’m focusing on my projects and getting started, I can’t wait to go to the debates and really help give young people a voice.”
● To contact Rosie about any concerns, go to www.ukyouthparliament.org.uk or send an email to email@example.com and mark it for the attention of Rosie Lord.