Five young people from across Midlothian are campaigning for votes to become Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs), as the voting officially opens for the 2017 SYP Elections.
The Scottish Youth Parliament (SYP), independent from all political parties, is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. It provides a national platform for young people to discuss issues important to them and affect the changes they wish to see.
The youth parliament was influential in helping secure votes for 16-year-olds in Scotland, and has also been a key voice in the campaign for equal marriage through its Love Equally campaign.
SYP’s current campaign, Speak Your Mind, focuses on raising awareness of mental health, empowering young people to talk positively about mental health, and calling for accessible, high quality mental health services and information for all of Scotland’s young people.
The voting period for the SYP elections opened last Friday and will run until Friday, March 17. Young people will be able to cast their vote to elect one MSYP from every parliamentary constituency in Scotland and another to sit as a South Scotland List MSP.
Elections are held every two years, in which young people from all across Scotland stand as candidates to become MSYP.
MSYPs range in age from 14 to 25 and represent constituencies in all 32 local authorities throughout the country, and several national voluntary organisations.
Young people can cast their vote by submitting a paper ballot or using the e-voting system, depending on the method chosen by the local authority.
Further information on how to vote can be found at www.syp.org.uk/stand4syp.
Mya Lawson (17) from Gorebridge plans to hold councillor-style surgeries if she is elected to the SYP.
She added: “I strongly believe that wealth, either a lack of or abundance of, defines too much of our lives. If we see an injustice, everyone should feel confident enough to stand up for the person in need of support.
“I am reliable, honest and hardworking, if I say that I will do something I will do it.
“I co-run a lunch time club at school so have experience of organising a group and listening to their requirements and expectations. I am artistic and enjoy creating new ways of making young people’s ideas get noticed.
“I would like my efforts to benefit all young people in Midlothian and on a personal level I have two younger brothers who I would like to represent.”
Aimee Gorrie (14) from Penicuik is the youngest Midlothian candidate in the youth parliament elections.
She said: “I want to be an MSYP because many of the social issues affecting the youth in Scotland affect my friends and people I know. I want to help make sure everyone gets the support they need and want and ensure everyone gets a say in matters that affect them.
“My opinion is that young people aren’t consulted enough on the matters that concern them and rather they are told what changes are being made.
“I believe I should get your vote because I will work nonstop to make sure everyone has voiced their opinion and feel they have had a fair say in their future. I want these issues facing young people to be solved.
“I’m honest, trustworthy and willing to challenge issues. I’m keen to work for my local community.”
Keiran Harvey (16) from Gorebridge is the founder of internet radio station The Youth Radio Network, and he volunteers at Crystal FM and Black Diamond FM.
He said: “I would like to become an MSYP because I am an enthusiastic, motivated, determined and hardworking young person. I have taken part in a number of projects and youth groups and recently achieved a 500-hour volunteering award.
“I would make a good MSYP because I have been involved in a lot of youth work in and around my community. I am also involved in Midlothian Youth Platform which is a charity that helps give young people a voice in Midlothian. I believe in young people and the future!
“If you vote for me I will make sure young people are heard in Midlothian and beyond. I will also help create opportunities for young people and make sure there are things for them to do.”
Megan Kay (15) from Loanhead already sits on the Midlothian Youth Platform, but is keen to do more for local youngsters.
She said: “I would like to become an MSYP because I believe in equal opportunities for young people and I want to challenge stereotypes. I think that it is important that young people are listened to in their life and community. I am involved in Midlothian Youth Platform, which is a group of young people who aim for a more inclusive county. I identify as LGBT so I understand the lack of equality in Midlothian and how it feels to be discriminated against for being different.
“I am a very devoted volunteer who gives up my time tirelessly to have an impact on other people’s lives. I have grown in confidence and look for things to fill my time and keep me busy.
“A lot of the work I am already doing has put me in a good place to be your next MSYP.”
Mili Boaltiki (16) from Penicuik enjoys participating in sport and considers herself a team player.
She added: “I believe that teens should have a huge part to play in decisions being made today in society which will further impact our generation and those yet to come.
“In addition, teens are sometimes underestimated by the older generation and judged simply because of age, this is something that I would like to disapprove of by sharing how much of an impact teens actually have on society.
“I think that teens should vote for me as I can be very enthusiastic on matters that I’m very passionate about and give 100 per cent into the work I would do to make sure that teens’ voices/opinions are expressed, heard and represented well.”