The first major event in Falkirk’s Year of Young People (YOYP) will be staged at the Helix this month.
But it won’t be the only event taking place this year, organised by and celebrating young people across the district.
For a dedicated group of youngsters – a mixture of youth club members and YOYP local young ambassadors – is currently busy planning a week of events for August.
The YOYP youth committee was recently awarded £1,991 from the Year of Young People Youth Community Action Fund to help organise a week of events. Local businesses are also getting on board.
But before that week kicks off on Monday, August 13, there’s another major event on the calendar.
STEM at the Helix will be staged on Saturday, May 19 – an event filled with interactive workshops and experiments focusing on science, technology, engineering and maths.
First held in 2017, when it welcomed 80 students from local high schools, the organisers decided to go much bigger this year.
Jessica Wagstaff, Falkirk Community Trust marketing officer, explained: “The initial pilot project was developed and delivered last year by a group of passionate individuals from Falkirk Community Trust, local educational providers and industry.
“Feedback from the young people involved was very positive, with areas of growth and opportunity for young people identified.
“The team decided they wanted to grow the event this year by delivering both a schools event, which is set to welcome 240 young people on May 18, and an additional event open to the public on May 19, focusing on young people and their engagement with STEM.
“The great thing about this event is that young people had their say in how it was designed and developed.
“They have even assisted with the marketing by making a great video to promote the event.
“We hope that, after the YOYP, we will be able to source further funding to make this event an annual celebration of STEM.
“We live in an area with a history soaked in STEM industries, after all.”
Activities for all the family will be on offer on Saturday, May 19, including nature workshops with the RSPB, Dynamic Earth’s Operation Earth workshop and virtual reality kits to train wind turbine technicians.
Glasgow Science Centre will also present electronic workshops and there will be a fun, scientific food fight too!
STEM at the Helix on May 19 will run from 11am to 4pm and admission is free.
For more information visit www.thehelix.co.uk.
Meanwhile, Sarah Stow, a community education worker with Falkirk Council’s community learning and development team, is working with the YOYP Falkirk youth committee in preparation for August.
She said: “The group has been meeting regularly since just before Christmas.
“There are about ten young people – YOYP ambassadors and youth club members from Rock the Talk in Falkirk, the Sub Youth Club in Langlees and the Tryst in Larbert.
“Together they are organising and planning a week of events for young people, which will launch on Monday, August 13.
“They have organised an open mic night and are hoping to hold quiz nights and a song-writing evening.
“They have created their own logo for the week and have also enlisted support from local businesses.
“Behind the Wall, for example, has kindly agreed to host a couple of events.
“It’s a great experience for them as they are planning and organising the week under their own steam.
“It’s also been a learning curve for us as young people come up with ideas we wouldn’t even think of!”
With a mix of ages, from P7 to those in their late teens, the week should also offer something for all ages.
Sarah added: “They come from different backgrounds and ages so there should be something for everyone.
“It’s been exciting for me watching the young people get to know each and other and working so well together.
“They’re all looking forward to August, both to celebrate being part of the community and to showcase what they can do.”
On Thursday, a Bridging the Gap coffee morning was also staged at Polmont YOI by a group of young female offenders as part of the YOYP.
Older female offenders were invited along to the event to build links between the generations.
A closer look at YOYP and STEM
The Scottish Government’s themed year for 2018 is the Year of Young People.
A global first, it aims to provide a platform for young people – aged eight to 26 years old – to have their voices heard and their talents celebrated.
A year-long programme of events and festivals is being held across the country for all ages to enjoy, led by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s events directorate.
Local authorities, schools, youth groups and organisations are running their own YoYP 2018 activity.
Young people co-designed the year. A group of young leaders, Communic18, lead on all key decision making and more than 500 ambassadors, based across every local authority area, are championing activity.
The year is delivered in partnership between the Scottish Government, EventScotland, Young Scot, the Scottish Youth Parliament, Children in Scotland, YouthLink Scotland and Creative Scotland.
It will focus on six themes chosen by young people – culture, education, participation, health and well-being, equality and discrimination, and enterprise and regeneration.
Further information on what’s happening and how people can get involved can be found on the website www.yoyp2018.scot or @YOYP2018 on Twitter.
* Throughout the UK there is widespread concern that not enough young people are choosing to study STEM related subjects, resulting in a skills gap.
Young women, in particular, remain under represented. For example 49 per cent of state funded co-ed schools had no girls taking physics A-level or equivalent in 2011.
Those statistics have not changed much in 30 years, with a similar trend seen here in the Falkirk area.