“Listen to youngsters to make the world a better place,” says Young Adviser Sophie

International Youth Day is an awareness day allocated by the United Nations. It is important as it gives us a chance to celebrate young people’s voices and promote a given set of cultural and legal issues around young people.

We need to listen to young people if we are going to make the world a better place. I became a Young Adviser for the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland around five months ago because I wanted to make a difference for lots of young people in Scotland. This amazing opportunity was even better than I could have imagined. We’ve covered so much already, from talking to young people who were just as passionate as I am, to discussing what should be put into place for children as a result of coronavirus. I can’t wait to see the ideas blossom and how the Young Advisers develop in many ways to help everyone.

What’s this year’s theme for International Youth Day?

This year’s theme on International Youth Day is “transforming food systems: youth innovation for human and planetary health”. This is particularly important to me as I have quite a few food allergies, so I know how important a good diet is.

Good food and nutrition are important to help your physical and mental health. Everybody knows that a healthy diet helps maintain a healthy body but, there are many more benefits including memory improvement, increasing your energy levels, and protecting you against many chronic diseases.
There remains inequalities within the current distribution of food in many countries suffering from extreme poverty. However, there is an awareness of good health and nutrition within these countries, but high levels of poverty mean nutritional food is not easily accessible to everyone, despite the need. Article 24 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that all young people have the right to health. But a lack of good quality nutritional meals can lead to an unhealthy child. Therefore their rights are not being fulfilled.

What are the issues around food and poverty in Scotland?

Within Scotland this is also apparent and as a nation we need to start changing and letting more people know that this is a huge issue. We must address this, and offer solutions. Some of these solutions could include:

  • Free school meals for all school children, which would be a great start.
  • A voucher scheme for poorer families, which would enable all children to access nutritional food thus ensuring all children can still eat well outwith school hours and term time.
  • The government or local councils could subsidise major supermarkets to ensure nutritional foods were readily available and affordable.
  • More education. My thinking is that you need to teach kids as early as possible about good food and its benefits so involving children from a young age in schools is fundamental. When we get involved with where our food comes from then we are more likely to eat and be interested in it.

I am hoping that lots of other young people will be able to get involved and spread awareness on this subject as it would make such a huge difference if we could hear what the next generation have to say about it, with positive feedback and different opinions.

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