- Posted by: Joyce Watson MS
- Categories: Blog, Feature
I was in Strasbourg last week for a conference on youth citizenship. It took place in the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, part of the Council of Europe. I spoke at the event with Tricia Jones from Funky Dragon about the Welsh experience.
Funky Dragon is the name given to the Children and Young People’s Assembly for Wales. It finds ways of making sure that children and young people get their voices heard not only by Government but also by others who make decisions that affect their lives.
By coincidence, the previous week I listened to pupils from Ysgol Dyffryn Aman in Ammanford debate whether political parties do enough to engage young people.
The debate took place in the old chamber of the Welsh Assembly. It was part of an international conference.
Sixty parliamentarians from parliaments as far afield as Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, St Helena and Malta came to Wales for the event, which, as the Wales Chair of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, I had the honour of attending.
During half term, when young people up and down the country are studying for exams and enjoying a well-earned break, James Jones and Jack Vaughan from Ysgol Dyffryn Aman took part in the conference’s debating competition. They performed brilliantly.
They did such a good job in fact that I showed a video of the debate in Strasbourg. It was a wonderful advertisement for Wales and for the talents and involvement of our young people. You can watch the video online at: http://youtu.be/p2ryH_uHYzs
What I enjoyed about the team from the Amman Valley were the characteristics that have always been part of the speaking tradition in Wales. In politics, we remember with pride the great speeches of Aneurin Bevan. However, let us not forget that the first ever Secretary of State for Wales was James Griffiths who was himself a product of the Amman Valley. And what a speaker he was!
The best debaters, the best speakers are not just polished. They manage to sound natural, as well. It comes from being able to combine the personal with the general, the throw-away bits of humour and the ability to vary the pace of delivery. Most of all, however, it comes from conviction, from your belief in what you say.
Wales has one of the youngest legislatures in the world. Meeting young people like Tricia, James and Jack, I know it is in good hands.