A new youth voice for the Derry City and Strabane District Council area has been officially launched by the Mayor, Councillor Micheala Boyle.
The North West Ministry of Youth is made up of 35 youth councillors who have the opportunity to become leaders in promoting equality and tackling discrimination.
Youth councillors will vote on the allocation of a £24,000 budget to deliver their youth manifesto which prioritises what young people have put forward as important to them.
The development of the North West Ministry of Youth is a key commitment within Youth 19 and will support the district to work towards Unicef Child Friendly Community status, where all young people have a meaningful say in and truly benefit from the local decisions, services and spaces that shape their lives.
The youth councillors will represent local communities, schools and colleges, people not in mainstream education, training or employment, existing youth voice structures and representatives from the Donegal Youth Council.
Mayor Boyle welcomed the formal launch of the Council.
She said: “The North West Ministry of Youth is the voice of the young people in our city and district, empowering them and giving them a say in the matters that affect their lives,” she said.
“The new Youth Voice is a commitment within our Inclusive Strategic Growth Plan and we are pleased to formalise the new structures which will be delivered by Cooperation Ireland, the Education Authority and local community and voluntary sector youth providers on behalf of Council.”
Derry City and Strabane District Council chief executive, John Kelpie, expressed his support for the partnership approach being adopted to support the youth voice.
“It is important that a variety of statutory, community and voluntary sector organisations have come together through a community planning approach to support young people to make the changes they want to see for a bright and prosperous future.
“The district is growing and has so much to offer; we need to ensure that young people are part of that growth and that they are part of shaping the vision for our future”.
Young people from the PEACE IV Youth Council steering group co-designed the new Youth Voice.
The group shaped the name, brand and logo, developed the concepts and ideas to inform the tender specification and took part in a range of training, support and development.
They co-designed a youth survey and have presented to committee members and senior leadership team about the priorities of young people within the district.
Magali Wing, from the youth steering group said: “I've been on this incredible journey for nearly two years now and to say I've been one of the young people to form this new youth voice is one of my proudest achievements.
“It's crazy to think we were debating about what the Nort West Ministry of Youth should be called a year ago and now it's up and running.
“I've been pushed outside my comfort zone, made to compromise and learned how to see things from other people’s perspectives but it's made me grow so much as a person.
“I'm sad that the journey is coming to an end but it means the beginning of a new chapter for the youth councillors and I'm really excited to see the amazing work they'll do.
“I'll never forget the amazing experiences, skills and friends I've taken away from this journey”.
This new opportunity is funded by the EU’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.
Match-funding has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland.
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