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Voting open to elect the next Children’s Mayor of Leeds

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Children and young people in the city are being encouraged to cast their vote in the election to decide the next Leeds Children’s Mayor.

The programme is now in its eighteenth year and Leeds was one of the first cities in the UK to elect a young mayor. It is a unique opportunity for the city’s youngsters to learn about democracy and voting whilst enabling and encouraging them to be more community-minded by considering the kind of things that would make improvements in their schools and local areas.

In May, primary schools across the city were asked to submit candidates from Year 5. Despite the complications and issues surrounding coronavirus, the Leeds Children’s Mayor Team received 49 entries. Children were asked to write a short manifesto detailing what they would do as Children’s Mayor to make Leeds an even more child friendly city for other children and young people.

From the entries, a shortlist of 12 finalists was decided upon by a judging panel of children and young people, which included local members of youth parliament and youth councillors as well as the current Leeds Children’s Mayor, Wania Ahmed.

Children and young people (aged 18 or under) and now being encouraged to visit www.surveys.leeds.gov.uk to cast their votes. The newly elected Children’s Mayor is set to be announced by the Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Eileen Taylor at a civic reception event on 21st October. Voting closes at 12pm on Friday 16th October.

The 12 finalists for this year are:

Name School Manifesto idea
Agatha Brundle Bardsey Primary School Stop plastic pollution and climate change from harming our planet
Samuel Hill Carr Manor Community School ‘Be Yourself, Love yourself, Respect all others’ – building bonds between people and communities.
Sophie Sutton Churwell Primary School A pen pal network between schools in Leeds, helping children learn about different cultures.
Joshua Smith Cookridge Holy Trinity C of E Primary School ‘Bee Kind’ – an idea to spread positivity and kindness in difficult and uncertain times.
Grace Langdale Great Preston C of E Primary School Giving every child the opportunity to grow their own fruit, vegetables and herbs at school
Honor Priestley Holy Name Catholic Voluntary Academy Autism Action: Inform and educate young people in Leeds about autism to help them become more understanding towards Autistic children.
Laila Gibson Ireland Wood Primary School A mental health project to Inform and support young children of Leeds to make them aware of their wellbeing
Rosie Metchkarova-Taylor Little London Community Primary School Fun and free art – children working together as a team to create a masterpiece from upcycled household materials.
Sophie Powley Meanwood C of E Primary School Reducing pollution by encouraging children to walk to school or ‘Park & Stride’ and then to measure schools progress
Olivia Williams Sharp Lane Primary School Christmas Toy banks to ensure that all children get a present at Christmas
Isla-Rae Norval St Chads Primary School To provide regular Dental Health Education to children with my SMILE FOR LIFE programme.
Lexie Dickinson Whinmoor St Pauls Primary School To encourage children to eat healthy and keep fit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Lord Mayor of Leeds, Councillor Eileen Taylor said:

“I’m overwhelmed and thrilled by the number of children and schools who have once again taken part in this fantastic programme. They are an inspiration, not only to their peers and other children, but to me, and to anyone working to help make Leeds the best city to live in. The quality of the manifestos this year is exceptional and I am looking forward to the finals night in October to find out who will be our next Children’s Mayor – and best of luck to all our finalists”

Councillor Fiona Venner, executive member for children and families said:

“One of our greatest ambitions is to make Leeds a more child friendly city and helping our children and young people to become active citizens with a real voice and influence is a key part of this. This year the manifestos are written on a wide range of issues including autism awareness, road safety, community cohesion and dental hygiene. The children’s mayor project shines a light on how kind, thoughtful and community minded children in the city are and I can’t wait until the finals night to meet the winner”.

A brief history of the Leeds Children’s Mayor programme: As part of Local Democracy Week in 2003, the Democratic Services and Children’s Services teams in the council teamed up to launch the “Mayor for a Day” project. The aim was to encourage secondary school students to be more democratically aware and to vote in local and national elections when they turned 18. After seven successful years running the programme with high schools in the city, it was the turn of primary school children and in 2011, “Leeds Children’s Mayor” was born – complete with Children’s Mayor robes and their own chain-of-office, which was kindly supplied by Stoners Jewelers.

Since then, over 37,000 children and young people have voted and every elected Children’s Mayor has attended a full council meeting to read out their manifesto to the 99 city councillors. In addition to being supported by Leeds City Council to make their winning manifesto a reality, former children’s mayors have taken part in a huge range of activities including waving the starting flag at the Tour De Yorkshire, representing children at the Remembrance Sunday parade, switching on the Leeds Christmas Lights, taking the stage at Child Friendly Leeds Live! and much more.

Wania Ahmed, the 2019 Children’s Mayor: Wania Ahmed was a ten year old pupil at Harehills Primary School when she submitted her entry to become Children’s Mayor last June. Four months later over 8,900 children and young people had voted and the Lord Mayor of Leeds was announcing her name as the next Children’s Mayor. Her winning manifesto was called “Chill and Chat” – a project for schools that would support the mental health and wellbeing of pupils. In February she was invited to read her manifesto to the 99 city councillors at a Full Council meeting and has since been working with Leeds City Council and Space 2 – a local arts charity based in Gipton – to bring her idea to life.

On being the Children’s Mayor, Wania said: “Being the Children’s Mayor of Leeds I got to experience the adult world. I really enjoyed the Yorkshire Children of Courage awards and my proudest overall moment was laying the wreath on Remembrance Day. To all the Year 5’s entering this year – good luck! “

To follow the progress of the Children’s Mayor on Twitter, please see @LSChildrenMayor

Source Leeds City Council