The new Youth Mayor of Neath Port Talbot pledged to “champion the rights of children and young people” at a virtual inauguration ceremony held last Thursday (10th December).
Erin Sanderson, aged 18 from Waunceirch, takes up the position of Youth Mayor having served a year as Deputy Youth Mayor. The positions are elected annually by Neath Port Talbot’s Youth Council to give young people a voice and help them to have their say on local issues.
Erin is a former Dwr-y-Felin Comprehensive School pupil and was recently chosen to become a mental health ambassador for Inspirational futures, an organisation set up by teachers to offer support on wellbeing and mindfulness to pupils, parents and teaching staff.
The inauguration was held online due to the current coronavirus pandemic and was attended by more than 40 people which included key community leaders, friends and family.
In her maiden speech as Youth Mayor, Erin said: “I pledge to champion the rights of children and young people to ensure they are upheld, with particular regard for the children and young people who are most vulnerable, at-risk, marginalised and least likely to be heard in society.
“There are no limitations to what the young people in Neath Port Talbot can achieve, even during a pandemic. I wholeheartedly believe that if all generations work-together, listen to each other and care for each other, we will continue to regain our confidence and develop our resilience in the face of whatever may be thrown our way.”
Councillor Peter Rees, cabinet member for education, skills and culture, who gave a speech at the virtual ceremony, said:
“I look forward to supporting Erin during her year of office and helping her to focus on the things that matter most to young people”
“Our over-riding priority as a council is to give every child and young person the best start in life. Involving young people in a meaningful way in civic life is another important step in making sure we respect, support and promote the rights of children and young people.”
The new Deputy Youth Mayor, Bethan Nicholas-Thomas, was also inaugurated. The Cwmtawe Community School pupil is a member of the British Youth Council and the Youth Climate Ambassadors Group which campaigns to make changes for a healthier planet.
Cllr Scott Jones, Mayor of Neath Port Talbot County Borough, said: “I’d like to congratulate both Erin and Bethan on being selected by the Youth Council to become our new Youth Mayor and Deputy Youth Mayor.
“It is important that we hear the views, ideas and voices of all children and young people across the work of the Council.
“I look forward to supporting Erin in everything she does in the virtual world, via media channels and in her work with the Youth Council.”