Belfast Telegraph

Mayor to host teenagers' debate

Teenagers from across Belfast are being given the chance to question the city's police officers and councillors about issues impacting them.

Drugs and alcohol misuse and issues around youth justice are set to be on the agenda at the event in City Hall next week.

Organised by Belfast City Council and the Policing and Community Partnership (PCSP), the question session is aimed at 14 to 18-year-olds from schools and community groups in the city.

More than 200 teenagers are set to attend.

Lord Mayor of Belfast Mairtin O Muilleoir said: "This is a unique opportunity for the city's young people to have their views heard and ask questions about the issues impacting on their day to day lives.

"All of the activities and subjects being discussed will help create an environment that will allow barriers to come down, and also challenge the stereotypes young people attach to individuals in positions of authority, and vice versa."

As well as a round table 'speed networking' session with young people and police, there will also be drama role playing examining the impact of drug and alcohol abuse, and an interactive quiz to encourage young people to think about how getting in trouble with the law can affect their future career and travel plans.

The teenagers will be given access to the main council chamber for a debating session on subjects chosen by them.

Councillor John Hussey, chair of the Belfast PCSP, added: "It's really important that we give young people a voice and remember that they are the next generation, and now is the time to talk and debate with them about the issues that matter to them.

"Community engagement is key to the work of the PCSP and having young people onboard is crucial. I'm confident that it won't just be the young people who will take something away from this event; I imagine there will be many lessons for us as well.

"This event will provide young people with an opportunity to engage directly with the councillors in their area, and their feedback will help shape the work of the PCSP as we plan for the year ahead."

One guest at the event will be Mark Pollock, the first blind man to reach the North Pole and a 2002 Commonwealth Games medallist in rowing.

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