Giving 16 year olds the vote is just one recommendation made by Laois secondary school students at the AGM of Comhairle na nÓg.
Protecting and enforcing the rights of children was the topic for discussion at the youth council’s AGM, at the Heritage Hotel Portlaoise last Tuesday October 21, marking the 25th year of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
About 160 Junior and Senior cycle students from schools across Laois examined six of the 42 articles in the Rights of the Child Convention, and brainstormed ways to protect children’s rights, facilitated by Joe Thompson, Youthwork Ireland, youth workers from around Laois and acting Comhairle co-ordinator Rose Doolan, Laois County Council.
Each student also filled out a detailed survey, giving their views on sexual orientation, bullying, drugs, different cultures and happiness.
A similar survey was conducted last year, and results are to be compliled and made available to assist schools and Laois County Council in policy making decisons.
The younger voting age was suggested by the Junior cycle students, along with an innovative idea of putting the Childline freephone number on new mobile phones.
Chairperson of Laois Comhairle na nÓg is Corey Marum aged 16 from Portlaoise College. He also chairs Portlaoise Youth Cafe Committee.
He listed the Comhairle’s achievements in the past year.
“We have been working on the IMind project which promotes positive mental health for young people by developing a pack which can be delivered in school. We are also working on a bully project called ‘Am I a bit of a bully?,” he said.
The group have also given Laois County Council a young perspective on the Laois Walking and Cycling strategy about cycle lanes and the Slieve Bloom mountain bike trail.
“We have also met with the Sports and Recreation officer to see how they can assist getting a skate park for Portlaoise,” said Corey, inviting new members to join.
“Laois Comhairle na nÓg is the voice of young people of Laois,” he said.