A STUDENT at the Cotswold School has won a place on the UK Youth Parliament.

Year 11 student Maya Samuel is now the UK Youth Parliament member for the Cotswolds and Stroud.

Maya only recently joined the school council but encouraged by teacher and school council coordinator, Mr Ellis, she quickly decided to stand for election.

“Our generation is powerful” is her message to other young people.

Passionate about mental health and racial equality, she composed her manifesto and was delighted to win a seat in the Youth Parliament elections in March

“I feel strongly about change that makes a difference and creating a safe environment for all, void of discrimination and ignorance. I am also passionate about equality of all sexualities, genders, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds," she said.

“I was not aware of the UK Youth Parliament until this year, when Mr Ellis told me about this opportunity in one of our school council meetings. He helped me with my campaign and I am very grateful to him for encouraging me to stand.”

To run for election, Maya created a manifesto of her key ideas and beliefs. As well as campaigning in her school in Bourton-on-the-Water, she also campaigned at other schools to raise awareness and encourage students to have a voice.

“What I want to achieve is to break down the negative stigma around teenage mental illness. To do this, social media would be my greatest tool as it is powerful and can reach many audiences and age-groups,” she added.

Maya feels that 11 to 18 year olds – the age-group who can be elected to the UKYP – should engage with politics now.

“Our generation is the future generation of politics and change. We as a collective know how to deal with the changing times as we are changing with them. Our generation is powerful and can make ripples in the actions of Parliament with fresh ideas and protest," she said.

“My advice to people who are thinking of standing for a similar position in the future is to take every opportunity that is shown to you and not to be afraid to do so.”