The Ashford Youth Forum met today at the Civic Centre in Ashford for a debate session. Students from our local Secondary schools attended the event and the debate was lead by their questions for a panel including yours truly from KICC.
I came to this late in the day when clashes in diaries meant our Chairman Dan Ghinn and Chief Exec Jo James were unable to take part. It was a good chance for me as Young Chamber Co-Ordinator to meet with a selection of students from around Ashford. Key questions were put to the panel including myself, Chris from Your Ashford and Webbo from KMFM. The topic for discussion was Aspirations of Young People – Plus the involvement of the media – Does the general portrayal of young people affect our future careers? Genuine concerns for this group of students in their final year of education. Very soon they will be expected to make choices which can affect their futures.
The main concern for the group was that the media focus on the down side of the youth community, that it is only the minority of trouble makers who receive press attention and as such they are all tarred with the same brush by us older citizens. The cry for more press coverage of the positives in youth society were echoed throughout the room. This is a tough subject to debate, the press do focus on the more dramatic stories in general and youth subjects are not alone in feeling the bias. Positive role models for younger people are far too often over looked and the hood wear knife weilding minority (very minor) hold the attention much better in print than the silent majority who are just getting on with getting on.
Critisism of magazines who focus on the very skinny female form were also voiced. This is the old story of press pushing an ideal of beauty on a majority who are far from size zero. The concerns of the youth are not so far removed from the concerns of the more mature woman, all of us are looking at a much fuller figure in the mirror and wondering where do all these skinny people shop?
The generations are not so far removed when it comes right down to it, the growing pains we felt as teenagers are still there in todays youth. We should all remember how we felt downtrodden by the generations above us, how our fashions and fads were frowned upon.
Thanks to the representatives from Wyvern School, Homewood School, Christchurch C of E, The Towers school, South Kent College, Highworth Grammar, Ashford School and Norton Knatchbull for their probing questions and to Mayor John Link for Chair and Carol Morton Youth Projects Coordinator at ABC.
Kim Gittins, Membership Development Manager