“The world is your oyster” Harvey Johnston, Convener of Orkney Islands Council told the many young people who had gathered together for the Orkney Youth Conference 2019.
The conference on Thursday 7th of February was organised by the Community Learning Development (CLD) Team.
Harvey Johnston went on to say that the Year of Young People did not stop in Orkney on 31st of December 2018 but continues on into this year and beyond.
“This is the era of young people,” he said. “Orkney needs you more than ever.” He went on to describe the studying and employment opportunities for those who choose to remain in the islands.
The keynote speaker of the conference was John Loughton of Dare2Lead. You can read more about him here: John Loughton. He gave an inspirational speech for this his third time being in Orkney.
Before recounting his earlier life and the choices he made John said:
“You are in control of you”
He urged the young people present to think about how ‘we choose to act.’
John Loughton is passionate about changing not just Scotland but enabling those around him to change too.
“All the scars on my heart as a teenager are now the lines on my C.V.”
“We all deserve respect “,he said – “not just our elders but all of us. Human rights are not age related but they are for everyone. “
“Don’t wait for the future” but “stand up today and dare to lead” because “young people are now”.
John Loughton had gone through a time when he was full of anger but grew to find a place “where acting with love, even when the world gives you hate” is what is important.
He continued: “All of us feel not good enough at some time. We are scared to try in case we trip .”
He spoke of one of the people who had influenced him who on facing what we would consider impossible hurdles when trying to make positive change in their society said:
“The world thinks in black and white. I have decided to dream in full colour.”
“You are confined only by the walls you build yourself. Choose to change. Life is too short to apologise for who you are – see yourself in full colour.
“You are going to fail – deal with it. Are you going to let fear of failure control you?”
“If you are not scared – you are not filling your dreams big enough.”
“Everything you want to know about someone is in their failures.” It is how you deal with those and learn from them.
John had 3 main strands he wanted people to take away with them from his speech
- Always be confident
- Always be caring
- Always be changing
“Get out there and have a voice”.
The rest of the conference consisted of workshops by:
- Who Cares? Scotland – a national voluntary organisation, working with care experienced young people and care leavers.
- See Me – Scotland’s programme to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination.
- Money for Life – a financial education programme delivered by Youth Scotland
- Respect Me – working to create a respecting, just, equal and inclusive Scotland in which all children and young people can live free from bullying and harassment.
One room was set aside for stalls with information available on many of the organisations in Orkney supporting young people.
The conference was brought to a close by Tim Frew, Chief Executive of Youth Link Scotland, the national agency for Youth Work in Scotland.
Cheryl Rafferty, a Community Learning & Development Officer with Orkney Islands Council said:
“Every two years, Community Learning and Development (CLD) organise and run the Orkney Youth Conference. The conference is held to give young people space and time to meet with their peers and discuss issues that are of importance to them in their everyday lives. It also provides an opportunity for young people to interact with youth focused organisations from across the county
“In recent years we have worked in partnership with members of the Orkney Youth Workers Forum to deliver a comprehensive, meaningful and fun day where young people have an opportunity to discuss, with both peers and agency representatives, a range of topics and issues relevant to them. We have a fantastic array of workshops on offer for young people at the event and it looks set to be a really great day.”
On Friday 8th of February ‘Growing Up In Orkney 3’ will be held at KGS.
Reporters: Fiona Grahame and Nick Morrison