Young people in Derry and Strabane will be getting to grips with local government over the coming year as the Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District, Alderman Hilary McClintock, invites local teachers to book classes in to the Guildhall to find out how things are run at the civic hub.
Schools can opt to take part in the ‘Do You Get the Guildhall?’ citizenship programme which offers young people the chance to find out about how council works, engage in an interactive debate in the council chamber and quiz a local politicians on issues.
The Good Relations initiative, piloted in June after being updated for the new council area, was formally launched by the Mayor, Alderman McClintock, on Tuesday June 28 and is open again for bookings for the new school year starting in September.
Alderman McClintock said: “I am delighted to be opening up the doors of the Guildhall to our local schools. This is a great opportunity for them to find out more about how the mechanisms of local government work and how they can use their own powers as citizens to influence how our district is run.
“The initiative has always been hugely popular in the past as the visits offer a great insight into local democracy and give young people the chance to express some of their views. We have such a young population in Derry and Strabane so it’s vitally important that they take an active interest in how local government works and how they can contribute.”
The sessions take place on weekday mornings and pupils will be taken on a guided tour of the Guildhall, as well as grappling with how democracy works, what council and councillors do and how to debate decisions within budget constraints.
Council Good Relations Officer, Sue Divin, said she would encourage schools or any other interested groups to book their visit. “We’ve already had a number of visits this month as we tried out the recently rewritten programme. We are delighted to offer the programme again free to schools throughout the year and will be writing out to them again to promote it in the Autumn. We’ve received some great feedback about the events to date and enjoyed some really interesting debates.
“The programme is targeted at Year 10 Citizenship but it can be adapted to suit most ages/abilities in post-primary schools. Community groups and youth groups interested in learning more about local democracy are also invited to take part in the initiative.”
Thousands of local school children engaged with the former programme to date and pupils in the new pilot in June have found it extremely helpful in debunking local democracy. A maximum of 40 pupils can be accommodated per visit. The initiative is funded under the District Council’s Good Relations Programme.
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