YOUSHAPE 2016 by Adam Cunningham 12B
Youshape 2016 was an event run by the UK Scouting Youth Council. All those attending are now members of this council.
I was nominated and selected by a panel in Scouting UK Headquarters in Gillwell, England to be one of two County Down representatives and one of 11 hand-picked Northern Ireland representatives for the UK Scouting Youth Council.
We were there to contribute ideas in discussions, learn more about scouting, make friends and connect with young people from different areas of the UK and Scouting Ireland. We participated in skills sessions and discussions to shape the future of UK scouting with the youth at the helm.
I had the fantastic opportunity to meet Hannah Kentish the UK Youth Commissioner. Also Wayne Bulpitt and Tim Kidd, who are members of the presiding committee that run the Scout Association. I also met the various County Youth Commissioners, members of staff from UK Headquarters and just under 200 enthusiastic and like minded young people from all corners of the UK and Scouting Ireland.
The event is incredibly important in the UK scout calendar and as council members we were there to represent the young people of our country and ensure our involvement in being able to shape the UK scouting movement and support the development of youth shaped scouting for nearly 500,000 young people nationwide.
The event itself ran from the 5-7 of February in the Dearne Valley activity centre, Kingswood in Doncaster. The Friday night gave us lots of opportunities to meet new people and relax. The actual forum took place on the Saturday morning with a session discussing proposed ideas of how Scouting can be youth lead from as young as 6 years old! These sessions were inclusive and broadcast via live feed and scouts were able to contribute from home via social media.
Some of the most interesting topics included how teenagers like myself could provide a larger role in our areas. We also learned how we could have a positive impact in our community through schemes such as Thousand Hands. This scheme aims to support charities in each of our local areas and to really make a difference while having fun.
After the forum there were a number of skill based break-out sessions aimed to teach young people valuable skills. These included topics such as the running of an organisation as large as the scouting association. Other skills like how to improve communication or good meeting etiquette were also shown. I have already had use of the latter when I was invited to a meeting with the County Down Commissioner and members of the Northern Ireland Scout Council to present my views and advise them on how to push Northern Ireland on and improve for all of the 40 thousand Scouts in Northern Ireland.
I really enjoyed the whole experience. I am proud and honoured to be a UK Youth Councillor and represent County Down and Northern Ireland in such an important role. I am looking forward to using my newfound skills to improve the scouting experience for all of Northern Ireland's scouts from Beaver Scouts to Network Scouts. I am grateful to have been chosen to represent Northern Ireland I am also honoured to be one of the few chosen to pioneer youth shaped scouting and be a catalyst to its ideas being integrated into Scouting Nationwide.