My experience travelling down to Cardiff with other young people to lobby AM’s in the Senedd was positive and enlightening, however there are many lessons to be learned.
Firstly it has been nearly 3 years since I was a member of the Funky Dragon Grand Council so it was lovely to see the staff that supported me and encouraged my participation a few years ago. Secondly it was amazing to see the same caring, supportive atmosphere resonate throughout the group. So instead of listing down all the negatives surrounding the process of appealing this decision to cut the core funding I thought it would be more beneficial to share the positives of being part of this inclusive and supportive organization. Some of them are just for fun – but the serious ones are integral and not understood fully by WAG as to why Funky Dragon is so important.
1. If you didn’t already you'll learn all the counties in Wales – not because you have too, but because you’ll need to learn where all your new friends live when you go to visit in the summer.
2 2. You'll learn about your fundamental rights and be introduced into the world of representation. Being part of the Grand Council offers you a chance to learn about the UNCRC and give you the chance to report back to the UN on their implementation in Wales.
3 3. You’ll get fit through the entire warm up games, mixers and ice breakers. If you've not done the Haiku at least 20 times by the time your term is finished – there’s something wrong.
4 4. You can be part of a programme that benefits the North and the South – equally. Something many programmes can lack, but in Funky Dragon we can boast.
5 5. You get a chance to put Wales on the map, not only by trying to explain to your English counterparts that you don't ALL live in Cardiff but by being fitted into the British Youth Council Young Ambassador Project, where you will get to represent young people at a European or even global level.
Y 6. You get too see the world through a lens other than what’s being plugged into you at school. Funky Dragon has a mixed council of young people between 11 and 25, all with a plethora of experiences. Once you’ve been to a resi, you’ll never come back the same views. Grand Council members are diverse and inclusive, all are welcome.
This is nothing on the list of positives that it has had on my life, but hopefully can give you an insight of what this established organization has become. The Welsh Assembly Government are retracting 12 years of work and essentially plunging us into the realms of underdevelopment when countries we may considered as less developed are pouring time, effort and resources into their youth.
Today I spoke to many different Assembly Members (AM’s) and got a diverse range of views on the future of the youth assembly. I received the drone like party response from a Labour AM for Cardiff, who plainly told us we didn’t understand what we were lobbying for and despite openly admitting having no clue herself what Funky Dragon is or what we stand for, felt the need to tell us that.
I was pleasantly pleased by the enthusiasm by North Wales regional AM Llyr Griffiths who was openly enthusiastic about how the youth assembly engages young people from both the North and the South. Something I am personally keen to advocate about the organization. He happily got a photo with us and wrote that he supports the youth assembly because of the good work we do regarding children’s rights. I will definitely have my eye on the Plaid Campaign following the next election.
I met the AM for my constituency Darren Millar. Millar has always been enthusiastic about young people and youth events and I recall him attending numerous panel events when I was at school, therefore I would not suggest his enthusiasm comes from the mere fact he is within an opposition party. He also wrote that the youth assembly does fantastic work and seeks to ensure we receive the funding we need to keep offering that high level of support, education surrounding rights and opportunity for young people in Wales to not only have their voice heard on a national level, but within the UK and internationally.
Funky Dragon – The Children and Young People’s Assembly for Wales is not a fad, or something extra that can be cut it times of austerity or hardship, it’s a fundamental platform for young people to receive their right to be heard under article 12 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child. Other countries are moving forwards as we seem to be moving backwards – I want to be proud of my government, my input and my country and have faith in the system of self government we have been given, something I would fail to do if the youth assembly ceases to exist.
If you wish you help to save Funky Dragon please sign this petition - https://www.assemblywales.org/gethome/e-petitions/epetition-list-of-signatories.htm?pet_id=1042&showfrm=0