On Tuesday 12th December, MSPs held a debate focused on looking forward to Scotland’s – and the world’s – first ever Year of the Young People in 2018.

This global first forms part of Scotland’s wider Themed Years programme, which plays a huge role in celebrating and promoting some of our greatest assets. Previous themes have included the 2015 Year of Food and Drink and the current Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology.

The Year of the Young People 2018 will provide a platform to showcase the personalities, talents and achievements of Scotland’s young people, with the aims, objectives, and outcomes being decided by young people themselves.

It is focused on challening negative sterotypes about young people, celebrating their contribution, and contributing towards making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up.

SNP MSP for Cunninghame South, Ruth Maguire, was amongst the MSPs who contributed to the wide-ranging and positive debate.

In her speech, Ruth focused on a variety of topics, from the importance of listening to all young people, not just those who are easy to engage with, to our duty as a society to improve the care of Scotland’s looked after children and be better corporate parents.

Speaking, Ruth said:

“It is important that we listen to all young people, not just shiny prefects and those already engaged in the structures and organisations that allow them to share their views – but those who are on the outside.

For any listening exercise to be truly meaningful, it has to include the views of, and engage with, all our young people, including those some might deem to be hard to engage with.

When I hear that phrase, I have to ask myself—and I ask others to reflect on it—whether such young people really are hard to engage with or whether they are just easy to ignore.

We have to make sure that nobody is ignored, because 2018 will be the year of all young people—not just some of them

Children and young people are not just our future, but our present too. Next year, first year of the young people, provides an excellent opportunity to reflect on just that.

To celebrate what our children and young people are doing right now, to listen to their needs and views, and to support them to be all that they can be.”