The teenagers of today will one day rule the world – and the older generation have a responsibility to them today by paving the way to help determine the future for us all be that in industry, business, politics or the community.
Just a few short years ago, I was frustrated that only a very small handful of young people took any interest in the world outside their own – but the recent surge in the numbers not just showing an interest, but actively engaged in politics, has exceeded my hopes and expectations.
We saw them out on the streets of Stockton during the general election, talking to people of all ages but most important of all, reaching and engaging with other young people drawing them in and helping them understand how politics affects all our lives.
But many of those young people, old enough to work and pay taxes too, were denied the ultimate tool to influence the future – the right to vote.
It is time for the change to be made.
I am continuously and pleasantly surprised at the determination and resilience of the young people in our society today. We live in a challenging and ever-changing world, and I believe it is more important than ever before that young people have a say in the decisions of today which will affect them tomorrow.
Votes at 16 has been thrown around and debated for years, and has been ignored by successive Governments. But I believe attitudes may finally be changing. There are all manner of “adult things” that 16 year olds can or have to do – they can even join the armed forces and fire guns. It’s foolish to say that they don’t deserve to be able to vote because they’re too young.
Yes, we need real political and financial education in schools to help equip our young people for the future – but I don’t doubt that 16 year olds are extremely well equipped to have a real say over what issues affect them, and give them the power to make change in their own communities.
I trust the young of today to be those leaders of tomorrow. But, in order to lead with confidence and strength, they need our support now.