Young Citizen Advocates (YCA)

The Young Citizen Advocates (YCA) events in 2017-18 came about as a direct result of IDEAS’ wish to increase engagement with secondary schools and their pupils.

 Using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a framework, IDEAS and its partners curated content that supported subject areas such as Modern Studies and STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths).

3With a variety of guest speakers, from activists and campaigners to Professors and Year of Young People (YOYP) Ambassadors, the four events aimed to engage and inspire young people whilst helping them develop the skills to effect positive change in the world as Young Citizen Advocates.

Dunfermline High School (June 2017)


In collaboration with Eco-Schools and the One World Centre in Dundee, the first YCA event took place the day after the UK’s General Election. It coupled the SDGs with the themes of the Year of Young People and involved workshops and talks that explored young people’s representation and involvement in decision-making. It culminated in each school producing a pledge and campaign to take back and implement in their own school.

Featuring: Spoken word artist Leyla Josephine, artist Graham Ogilvie and three workshops: ‘Participation’ with Glasgow Girl Amal Azzudin; ‘Health & Wellbeing’ with Tony McLaren from Breathing Space and ‘Equality’ with Scottish Parliament Outreach Manager Cara Slater.

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Ellon Academy – STEM event with Aberdeen Science Centre (September 2017)

The second event moved away from the relative comfort that comes from the affinity found within ‘social’ subjects and aimed to broaden engagement and raise awareness of the SDGs and Global Citizenship with STEM staff and pupils. Working closely with Aberdeen Science Centre (ASC), the Montgomery Development Education Centre (MDEC) invited a wide range of experts to share their experiences and knowledge with young people from schools throughout Aberdeenshire.

Featuring: Professor Sir Hugh Pennington (CBE), Debbie Mathers (Aberdeen Science Centre), Dr Matt Aitkenhead (James Hutton Institute), Carl Jones (Marine Scotland), Professor Geraldine McNeill (Aberdeen University), Darren Archer & Fiona Johnston (Score (Europe) Ltd.), Laura Barclay & Li Jiang (Baker Hughes GE) and David McGrath (Grampian Energy/Aberdeen Eco-Hub).

Un global goals STEM Summit poster


Conforti’s Modern Studies Conference (September 2017)

Following requests from teachers to deepen understanding of the theoretical areas of the Modern Studies curriculum linked to International Development, the Conforti Institute focused on Aid and Development inviting staff and pupils along for their event at Airdrie Town Hall. The SDGs provided the backdrop for activities and talks that unpacked the complexities of high level decision making and the analysis of media and public perceptions and/or bias.

Featuring: DFID representatives.

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The Residential (May 2018), The Conforti Institute, Coatbridge

Finally, led by the One World Centre and Michael Canning, the three-day residential brought together pupils and their teachers from around Scotland. Again, with the SDGs as a framework groups developed campaigns to implement in their schools; ranging from tackling poverty and reducing litter, to improving staff and pupils’ mental health. The programme included workshops, activities and talks that encouraged young people to design and plan their own campaigns, with support from partner groups and guests.

Featuring: Campaigner & activist Kirsty Haigh, Billy Singh (Show Racism The Red Card, Paths For All/Walking Football Scotland), Social Enterprise Academy, Christian Aid, Dundee storyteller Nick Toner, YOYP Ambassadors Mhairi McCann & Ell Merchant, the Scottish Fair Trade Forum, Project Trust and Rachel & Alistair from The Ferret. Plus, a visit from local MSP Fulton MacGregor, support from WOSDEC, Scotdec & MDEC and a rousing presentation from local school pupil Doaa Shabbir.

One teacher from Glasgow said that the Young Citizen Advocates event they attended with pupils was:

"An excellent event for our pupils and very relevant to being a Global Citizen - the activities helped put the Global Goals into context." Another teacher said: "Mixing with students from other schools encourages our young people to be open to new ideas whilst questioning their own attitudes. It gives them a sense of their responsibility to be active, global citizens."

We asked everyone who attended to describe the residential in one word. Here's what they said...

Each event has finished with every school signing a pledge to take action on one or more of the Global Goals, and these pledges will be followed up in due course.

They cover a range of themes, with one school in particular developing strong plans for the development of pupil peer support groups, and others looking at themes from gender equality to access to feminine health products.

You can hear more from the events themselves by visiting the IDEAS Soundcloud page - just follow the link below.

IDEAS Soundcloud link