Papier Mache Week, Falkland, 2008

My relationship with the Children’s Parliament began when I was chosen to be a part of the Fife group in 2007, aged ten. We would meet monthly in a community centre nestled amongst the whimsical woodlands of Falkland. Describing it now I realise how blissful the setup must seem, which it genuinely was, especially for many of the children who may never have had this opportunity to play so freely and instinctively, immersed in the nature provided within this safe environment. In saying all this, it wasn’t completely all fun and games. As a group that eventually became a community, we discussed and explored a series of issues relevant to the Rights of the Child. These topics were investigated through an array of thought-provoking and creative avenues. As children it was a completely new experience to be part of a venture where our voices and visions were essential and relevant tools for furthering the success of the project. Being part of such a rewarding experience from a very early age has most definitely benefited both my perspective and character. In addition, I now find myself still very much connected to and involved with this organisation. Once as a Member of Children’s Parliament (MCP), it’s an interesting process to reflect on as I now return as a Youth Ambassador working alongside CP staff.

Christie and Ben, EU Green Week, Brussels (2009)

As an Ambassador I’ve witnessed the work of the current MCPs, and I’ve been in awe of their contemplative abilities and eloquent ways of self-expression. It’s almost ironic, as I realise when discussing with the CP staff that it was very much the same for myself, and my MCP peers when we were a similar age. For me, it then raises the question, have these skills been developed through the work of Children’s Parliament or could it simply be that this organisation provides children with the opportunity to prove themselves as capable individuals. I believe it to be a combination of both. Children’s Parliament provides a safe space that covets the essence of the child. There is no pressure to become any more than what they already are as children. As well as this, the children hold access to the freedom and support that allows them to push themselves within their own means.

Returning as both a Youth Ambassador and an adult, I can fully understand and recognise how important and beneficial being part of a community such as CP is for children. Not only are they able to develop themselves as individuals, they are exposed to others that they may have not crossed paths with had it not been for this opportunity, creating incredibly significant and valuable friendships – which I can vouch for, from experience. Finally, this organisation provides its young MCPs with an astounding number of positive role models. I fully believe that introducing children to respectful, trusting and encouraging adults that they can build up a rapport with is undoubtably beneficial towards their future when forming similarly valued relationships with others.

So, to pose the question, ‘what does it mean to be a Children’s Parliament Youth Ambassador?’ I find myself with a series of thoughts. Firstly, it is my aim to facilitate the MCPs’ needs, making them feel they are safe and listened too, and that their best interests are always in mind. From this, I hope that they can then feel in company of people that fully believe in them, and through this they can then realise their full potential. I’d also say I find the role of Youth Ambassador fascinating, as you can learn so much from the children. It easy to forget that the world is changing, and with the development of our society so do the experiences of our children. They communicate these aspects of life to you so openly, it starts this conversation between different age groups which is really intriguing and exciting to be a part of. Finally, I think one of the most important roles of being a Children’s Parliament Youth Ambassador is having a level of honesty with the children, that you are really engaging with them and hearing what they have to say, building up this relationship of trust and communication. Ultimately conveying how much you truly care.

Our brilliant Youth Ambassadors at Children’s Parliament’s National Sitting 2018

Christie Thomson
Youth Ambassador (and former Member of Children’s Parliament)

#CPYearinReview: Y is for Youth Ambassador