News 2nd June 2017

Grassroots Democracy Games & the UN Sustainable Development Goals – NI Special Schools having some serious fun!

by Connor McLean

Pupils from three schools participated in a Democracy Games event at Parliament Buildings.  The session, organised by the Northern Ireland Open Government Network and the Grassroots Challenge, was based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  As well as having some serious fun, the event aimed to enhance political literacy by introducing pupils to party politics and the party manifesto making process.

Through a series of participatory democracy games, participants from Special Schools created their own political party, devising the name, and slogan for their Party.  One school, named the ‘Comedy Party’ drew inspiration from the Donald Trump election campaign, vowing the “bring back banter and make school great again”.

The games explored local issues set a global context by using the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a framework for developing Party manifestos.  Each Party set out their flagship policies as follows:

The After-Party Party vowed to make electric cars cheaper, provide healthier school meals and tackle climate change.

The Respect for All Party promised to abolish homework and increase fines for littering.

The Comedy Party wanted to send their comedy club to houses to make people happy.

The Youth Party vowed to introduce free public transport for school children and provide more outdoor activity during school hours.

The Caring and Sharing Party promised to end poverty in all its forms.

The Forward Together Party vowed to stop people smoking and provide more money for education.

Following a presentation of Party Manifestos, each pupil went to ballot box to cast their vote for the Party that best represents their priorities, values & principles.

It was a ground-breaking day for Northern Ireland with 100% voter turnout smashing all previous records.  The Caring and Sharing Party, whose party’s slogan reads: roots to grow and wings to fly, achieved a comfortable majority and were duly elected to serve the constituents of NI Special Schools.  They enter government vowing to, amongst other pledges, end poverty in all its forms, shorten hospital waiting lists and improve wheelchair access on public transport.

In reality each Party would have been fit to govern as they showed remarkable creativity, awareness and humour in adopting the UN SDG framework to outline an important set of priorities for fostering progress in Northern Ireland.

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