Bethan, a member of the YNCB Advisory Group and the YRAs, blogs about her experience of giving evidence at the Science and Technology Committee on the Impact of Social Media and Screen Use on Young People's Health. She has also looks at how her involvement can inspire other children and young people to get their voices heard.
As I walked up the stone steps, admired the architecture and gazed in wonder at the hallowed halls, it all clicked: this was Parliament. This was it.
When I received an email a month or two before, I had just come back from a normal day of school, fed up of the repetition of everything and the feeling that I would never make a difference in the world if I could only do SOHCAHTOA or discuss the impact of context in Macbeth. And there it was, telling me I had a chance to do something more, that email was proof that my voice and the voice of thousands of children would be heard.
On the 4th of July, Sienna, a fellow NCB Advisory Group member, and I gave evidence to the Science and Technology Committee on the Impact of Social Media and Screen-use on Young People’s Health. It was scary, but significant, because we knew we were helping the Committee and making sure we were all heard. The committee were all so warm and welcoming, and it made the experience really easy, so unlike what I thought it’d be, and I felt like I could be really open and honest about my experiences and those of others to them, and that that was what would help make the change. It was one of the best days of my life, and surely the most rewarding one.
A few months later, I got another email, this time about filming in Parliament about our experiences of giving evidence, and encouraging other people to do the same and get involved. I couldn’t believe it, and I still can’t. People think it’s an oxymoron, two opposites: young people and parliament. But here was proof that it’s time for our voices to be listened to, and that we will be heard.
The day itself was hectic, due to train strikes I had to get on a train a lot earlier than expected, and I had to sleep on the train! I’m glad I made it though, as the film crew set us up and we ran through the questions, I knew that other children might watch it and get involved, like I did with NCB, because every child’s voice should be heard, we should all have the chance to shape our future.
Hopefully this video will come out in a few months, and be proof that every child deserves a voice, deserves the chance to make a change and influence the people who matter most in policy-making.
Because if we don’t do it, who else can?