Why It’s Important for Young People to Have a Voice
Why your opinion and views on things matter!
This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of SpunOut.ie. It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for SpunOut.ie please contact email@example.com.
"Young people in Ireland are very capable, educated and opinionated individuals"
Growing up, we learn to resent being told what to do. It’s almost instinctive. If it’s not our parents, it’s our teachers, if it’s not our teachers it’s that ever present “society” that tells us we aren’t old enough to make decisions for ourselves so we’re to follow their rules until we’re old enough to “know better”.
Well I would argue that we do know better.
Young people in Ireland are very capable, educated and opinionated individuals. We need to show that we understand that there are decisions to be made regarding our futures and we need to propose ourselves as the people who need to be piloting these decisions.
Ministers, politicians, teachers and the community want to help better the future for our generation but their experience of being a young person is far out-dated to that of our own. Our problems and our concerns may not even dawn on the “powers that be” unless we point them out. To do that, we must take action and not just advise the decision-makers, but become them.
Now I know that speaking out in a forum of adults is easier said than done. It’s true too that not everyone needs to be a leader in youth inclusion. That said, we must realise that everyone’s opinion, no matter how insignificant we feel our ideas might be, are worth hearing. There is no need to worry that your voice will fall on deaf ears.
It is the persistence of young people and our sheer determination to prove that we’re worth listening to that will drive us to succeed in whatever campaign or committee we partake in. If any person believes that our voice isn’t worth hearing, then fine. We can prove them wrong. What’s worse than their ignorance is if we let ourselves believe that our voices aren’t worth hearing.
As I was writing this article, I thought I’d do a little background research and ask people why they felt that youth inclusion and being involved in decision making in society was important. Many said that they resented having to follow legislators who didn’t consult them and that this is why there is so much work being done in Ireland at the minute around voting at 16. I also heard how inclusion generates a sense of activism among young people and that this is needed not just on a local but on a national level.
Ultimately, having youth representatives in societal decision making gives us a real presence in Ireland. It fosters a sense of “We are here and we have voices.” It is a statement that we wish not to be consulted, but to participate - a benefit not only for the youth of Ireland but for the nation as a whole.