This is my first ever blog so I hope you blog addicts approve of it! I will be taking a break from Election talk and will be looking at Funky Dragon.
I have for a long time believed that the Young people of Wales lack a proper, professional and serious forum in which they can voice their concerns and ideas. At the moment the closest thing that young people in Wales have to a proper Youth Parliament is Funky Dragon, an organisation which in my view has had varying degrees of success and lacks credibility. It lacks proper resourcing and funding from the Welsh Government and has not made a big impact amongst young people.
What we need in Wales is something similar to the Scottish Youth Parliament which has run interesting and engaging campaigns and is an organisation which is generally taken seriously by young people and politicians alike!
Members of Plaid Cymru's youth wing have taken the lead in highlighting this issue in the past. Our current chair Cerith Rhys Jones not so long ago highlighted some of the problems with Funky Dragon on S4C. We must now progress the issue and press for a reformed body that young people in Wales will actually take seriously and will want to participate in.
In about 3 weeks time voters across Wales will face local Council elections. This made me realise, who elects the Youth Representatives that make up Funky Dragon and where do they get their mandate to represent Young people?
At the moment local youth forums elect people to represent them on the “National Council”. The first problem I see is that how many people know that these Youth Forums exist and attend their meetings? In order to really have a more meaningful impact and mandate, why doesn’t Funky Dragon engage with Schools and Colleges and find a way for a much broader spectrum of young people to engage in their organisation?
A complete rebrand is required and in particular changing the name is a must! I can only assume that the name Funky Dragon was chosen to try and make it sound cool and fun, however I think it has the opposite effect. I have friends who have been involved with Funky Dragon and are often too embarrassed to tell other people that they belong to an organisation with that name.
Young people want to feel that they are being taken seriously and are treated with respect. A proper Youth Parliament could be leading the campaign against higher tuition fees, Votes at 16, Gay marriage which a lot of young people in the LGBT community feel strongly about, Climate change and the list goes on!
I don’t like comparing Wales to Scotland much but in this case I think we in Wales could really learn from the SYP or Scottish Youth Parliament which has run campaigns on many of the topics above.