Young people from secondary schools will be forming their own political parties and going on the campaign trail later this week, as they take part in an event to raise awareness of democracy.
The day-long event, organised by Wellingborough Council and with support from Northamptonshire Voluntary Youth Action and Wellingborough School, aims to allow the pupils to see the democratic process from the inside, and help them understand what it means to campaign for something they believe in and influence people to support them. The event takes place at Wellingborough School from 9.30am on Friday 11 March.
The participants will be split into groups and will have to build their own political party, including naming it, coming up with a logo, and deciding on policies. They then have to present their party to the audience and explain who they represent and what their top three policies are. This will be followed by a session where they design a comprehensive election campaign. The day will also cover discussions about forming political alliances and managing political compromise, as well as an overview of alternative voting systems. The day will end with the opportunity for the pupils to question several community leaders.
Cllr Thomas Pursglove, the council's lead advisor for young people said: "I really believe that young people should be given the opportunity to understand and experience democracy in action, and this is even more important now as we approach the local elections and alternative vote referendum in May. The event will cover national democracy and national political issues, but also deal with issues that matter to people locally, such as how to raise awareness of concerns with their local MP.
"I've always been keen to promote the participation of young people in democracy. Some of the delegates will already be involved in the democratic process as part of their school councils, and some will be new to it. Hopefully they will all come away from the event with an understanding of how democracy works and a desire to get involved in the future."
Garry Bowe, Headmaster at Wellingborough School, said: "We had no hesitation in hosting this democracy day because we, as a school, have involvement in the local youth forum - last year we hosted a pre-General Election question time, we encourage involvement in our own school decisions through a highly active school council, and Friday's event strengthens our belief that young people must gain a greater understanding, involve themselves in the future democratic process and mould it in new and exciting ways."