Video: Children’s mayor gears up to be voice for Leeds’ kids

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Children’s mayor charlotte williams is on a mission to make sure children have a voice to help shape some of the big decisions affecting leeds. Laura Bowyer finds out more about her manifesto and plans for the year.

children’s Mayor Charlotte Williams is gearing up to make sure that children have a voice in Leeds.

YOUNG VOICE: Children's Mayor Charlotte, ten, with Coun Ryk Downes and Coun Judith Blake. PIC: Tony Johnson

YOUNG VOICE: Children's Mayor Charlotte, ten, with Coun Ryk Downes and Coun Judith Blake. PIC: Tony Johnson

She has already stood in front of thousands of revellers when crowds gathered to see the official Christmas light switch on in Leeds.

And just last week she addressed all 99 councillors from Leeds about her vision to get the city on their bikes.

Charlotte, 10, delivered her manifesto called Life Cycle of Leeds aimed at promoting cycling after she was inspired by Paralympian cyclist Dame Sarah Storey.

Her vision for the future aims to improve cycle access to places like schools, leisure centres and the city centre.

She also wants to see safe areas to lock up bikes and set up borrow-a-bike schemes in a bid to encourage commuters to ditch their cars.

And her manifesto comes as the city gears up to host the opening stage of the Tour De France this summer.

The Rufford Park Primary pupil said: “It’s very exciting.

“I get to help the Lord Mayor, I got to talk to the full council and judge competitions.

“I also got to switch on the Christmas Lights in Leeds.

“It’s exciting to be able to have a voice for other children but it can be a little bit scary sometimes.

“I feel very lucky to be able to do it and speaking to the councillors isn’t that scary.

“I got to see the council chamber when it is empty and it looks bigger when there are no so many people in it.”

Charlotte’s vision to provide safe transport links for children in the city was chosen following a competition last year.

Her manifesto was selected by voters as their favourite out of the shortlist of 10.

She added: “It’s all about cycling because I just want to improve the amount of cycling facilities there are in Leeds.

“Hopefully this will then increase the amount of people getting on their bikes in Leeds- both adults and children.

“There are no cycling facilities at Yeadon Tarn so I would like to start with that and then spread to the whole of Leeds and the city centre.

“I really like cycling so it is really exciting to be picked and I hope that I can make a difference.”

Lord Mayor of Leeds, councillor Thomas Murray said that the Children’s Mayor role helps the authority to engage with children as well as encouraging them to play their role in local government.

He said:“The Children’s Mayor competition is a great way for local government to interact and engage with kids, teaching them the importance of local government and what it is we do.

“Charlotte’s manifesto has really got us all thinking about how we can put her ideas into action.”

Yesterday, the YEP launched a new campaign to make sure that thousands of children are given a voice to help shape the future of Leeds.

We are launching a major new survey aimed at improving the lives of youngsters across the city - and to give them a voice.

There are approximately 180,000 children and young people in Leeds and we want to find out exactly what it is like to be a child growing up here.

We want children and adults to tell us what they like about Leeds , what they don’t like and crucially, what they want to see change.

We are also calling on the business community to sign a pledge to give their assurances they will provide opportunities to brighten the prospects for every child living in Leeds.

Child Friendly Leeds was launched by Leeds City Council in a bid to help Leeds become one of the best cities in the whole country.

And listening to future generations who will shape the city is at the heart of that scheme.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive member responsible for children’s services, said that over the next year Charlotte is set to be an ambassador for children across the city.

And she hopes even more children will follow Charlotte’s lead to make sure that their voices heard.

She said: “Charlotte did a fantastic job presenting her manifesto to all of the councillors – it must have been very daunting.

“As Children’s Mayor, Charlotte will get the chance to be an ambassador for all children in Leeds and help us achieve our aim to be a Child Friendly City, as well as getting involved in lots of events throughout the year.

“The role of Children’s Mayor is going from strength to strength. Charlotte’s manifesto is really timely with its focus on cycling especially with the hosting of the Tour De France.

“Having the children give their voices and influence has been so exciting.”

Child Friendly Leeds aims to make sure:

children have fun growing up;

children are safe from harm;

children achieve in school;

youngsters lead healthy lives;

children have a voice and influence in the city.

So far more than 300 children have signed up to become young advisors to enable them to have a say 
about how some of the big decisions facing the city affect children.

Over 170 organisations have already pledged to support 
the campaign to give children the opportunity to have 
access to mentoring, work experience and outreach programmes.

We are throwing down the gauntlet to encourage the city’s thriving business community and organisations to join forces to play their part in making sure children in Leeds have the best start to life.

DO YOU THINK LEEDS IS CHILD FRIENDLY? Click here to register and have your say on the stories and issues that matter to you

Youngsters’ wishlist of things they would like to change about Leeds

Youngsters were asked to draw up their very own wishlist about things that would like to change in Leeds.

They drew up a list of 12 things they would like council officials to achieve in their mission to create a Child Friendly Leeds.

They were:

Children can make safe journeys and easily travel around Leeds.

Children and young people find the city centre welcoming and safe, with friendly places to go, have fun and play.

There are places and spaces to play and things to do, in all areas and open to all.

Children can easily find out what they want to know, when they want it and how they want it.

Youngsters have a good understanding of children’s rights, according to the UN’s Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Children are treated fairly and feel respected.

Youngsters have the support and information they need to make healthy lifestyle choices.

All our learning places identify and address the barriers that prevent children and young people from engaging in and enjoying learning.

There are a greater number of better quality jobs, work experience opportunities and good quality careers advice for all.

All children and young people have their basic rights met.

Youngsters express their views, feel heard and are actively involved in decisions that affect their lives.

Places and spaces where children spend time and play are free of litter and dog fouling.

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