Dalkeith pupil’s positive message for life

Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP welcomes College students from across Scotland as they take part in the Your Scottish Parliament event at the Scottish Parliament. The event aims to help the students understand the parliament and how it works, increasing their engagement with the parliament in future. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament
Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP welcomes College students from across Scotland as they take part in the Your Scottish Parliament event at the Scottish Parliament. The event aims to help the students understand the parliament and how it works, increasing their engagement with the parliament in future. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

Students from across Scotland have been gathering to debate ‘hot topics’ at a Your Scottish Parliament event in Edinburgh.

One of the young people taking part was Dalkeith teenager Ross Foley, an elite para-badminton player.

Para-badminton player Ross Foley is one of the inspirational students from across Scotland taking part in the Your Scottish Parliament event at the Scottish Parliament. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

Para-badminton player Ross Foley is one of the inspirational students from across Scotland taking part in the Your Scottish Parliament event at the Scottish Parliament. Pic - Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament

The teenagers took over the Scottish Parliament’s Debating Chamber on Friday to discuss the important issues that affect their everyday lives.

Your Scottish Parliament, aimed at 16 to 19 year olds, will provide a platform for youngsters to be heard on issues such as moving on to college and how to tackle bullying.

Seventeen-year-old Ross used the event to highlight how he had overcome his disability. His message was that despite challenges in life, anything is possible with a positive mind set.

Ross said: “I have a type of dwarfism called Achondroplasia. In the past, I used to feel quite low about my disability. I found that some people stared and laughed at me in public, which got me down. It also sometimes stopped me fully taking part in group sports in school.

“But I then joined a badminton club in Musselburgh, and that’s when I discovered that I was pretty good at it. It’s really built my confidence and taught me that my disability doesn’t have to hold me back. I’m now improving my badminton skills each week, and I hope to make it to the Paralympics in 2024.

“I enjoyed speaking to people my age at Your Scottish Parliament. The main message I wanted to get across was that, despite challenges in life that many of us face, anything is possible with a positive mind set.”

As well as a live Q&A session in the Debating Chamber, the participants had a chance to have their say on a number of issues currently being debated in the Scottish Parliament. One of the discussions centred on how to encourage younger people to vote in local council elections.

Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh MSP said: “For many students attending Your Scottish Parliament, they may be at a turning point in their lives when they’re considering what to do next – there may even be some future parliamentarians. But whatever path they choose in the future, as they approach adulthood we want them to know that the Scottish Parliament is open and here for them.”