Youth Voice: The Importance of Advocating for Children and Young People 

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I am delighted to have been asked to lead the Youth Voice Pod as part of the Leeds Cultural Education Partnership (LeedsCEP). I have worked in cultural education in Leeds for over 15 years, and I am an enthusiastic advocate for the powerful role art and culture plays in the lives of children and young people.

Selina McGonagle
Director Geraldine Connor Foundation

I am delighted to have been asked to lead the Youth Voice Pod as part of the Leeds Cultural Education Partnership (LeedsCEP). I have worked in cultural education in Leeds for over 15 years, and I am an enthusiastic advocate for the powerful role art and culture plays in the lives of children and young people. My ethos has always been “access for all”, championing the importance of art and culture in everyone’s lives and the significant advantages that are gained through cultural education and engagement.

Over the last few years, I have witnessed the gap between those who have access and those who don’t. I feel more strongly than ever that breadth of culture should be experienced by all, particularly the young people of Leeds.

I am fortunate in my current role as Director of the Geraldine Connor Foundation (GCF) to be able to experience cultural participation and its impact firsthand through working directly with young people on projects. GCF has no art form bias or home base, we work across a range of art forms and cultural practices in both community, education, heritage, and arts settings. These are led by the interests of the young people and Creative Associates we work with.

We aim through the LeedsCEP and the Youth Voice Pod to support the work being delivered by Laura Rakontirina, the Youth Voice Manager at Leeds 2023. Ensuring this work has a legacy through the LeedsCEP in subsequent years. The Youth Voice summit held at Leeds Playhouse on the 15th of July was the start of this process. Co-produced with young people, the event was the first of many that brought young people together to share their views on arts and culture and their priorities for the year of culture in Leeds.

Young people are our future. We need to listen and work together to ensure that young people have access to high-quality artistic cultural experiences. This will enable them to create on their own terms, making UK culture more diverse and vibrant, now and in the future.

There are many educators and cultural organisations who do great work with young people across the city, we need to work together to ensure young people are heard and listened to about the art and culture they want to take part in Leeds. If you wish to be involved in the Youth Voice Pod, please contact selina@gcfoundation.co.uk

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End of Year Message

And suddenly it’s December! As we wind down towards the end of the year, it feels the right time to reflect on what has been achieved this year as a partnership! We have continued to strengthen work in our priority areas: Youth Voice, Skills and Progression, Advocacy and Comms, and Health and Wellbeing.

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