YAP Chair Michaela Collins is proud to support #iwill week

We pledge to ensure that young voices are woven into the fabric of our decision-making through the Spirit of 2012 Youth Advisory Panel (YAP), made up of 10 young people from across the UK.

The young people we work with are incredibly engaged with what is going on in the world around them, and are passionate for change that will make things better. All of this makes #iwill’s work so vital – and it’s why we’re proud to support it.

Click here to read our #iwill week blog by Ruth Hollis, Director of Policy and Impact > > 

This year, we want our young people to do our talking for us, which is why we’re featuring a different ‘YAP-er’ every day of the #iwill week on our website and social media.

Today, we welcome our YAP Chair Michaela Collins, the first of our featured young people who will set out what volunteering – and Spirit of 2012 – means to her.

Spiritof2012: Can young people make a difference? How?

Michaela: Young people’s voices and actions are more crucial than ever to our ever-changing world. I’m in awe of the work that so many amazing, ordinary young people do around the world to make it more loving, caring and safe for everyone.

An amazing young person making a difference is Grace Warnock, a 12-year-old who has designed and run a national campaign – ‘Grace’s Sign’ – that has been endorsed and embraced by Scottish Parliament and Edinburgh Airport. Battling Crohn’s disease, Grace knew first hand the judgements from others when she used an accessible toilet. She designed a bespoke accessible toilet sign that combines both visible and invisible disabilities.

If a 12-year-old can make a remarkable difference to change hearts and minds then we all can.

Spiritof2012: What social change do you most care about?

Michaela: Poverty. As someone who grew up in a social housing scheme and coming from a working class background, I know first-hand the effects poverty can have on a child and family. Poverty is manmade. It can be eradicated. We all have a part to play in making society and the world fair and equal for all, regardless of background.

Spiritof2012: How is Spirit of 2012 helping you make change?

Michaela: I am super proud to chair the Spirit Youth Advisory Panel which is made of 10 young people representing all corners of the UK who help Spirit make informed choices of where they should invest their funding. Mental health issues are continuously on the rise across the UK for children and young people. The Spirit Youth Advisory Panel will soon be launching a new fund that will help challenge mental health stigma by working with children and young people before it reaches crisis point.

Spiritof2012: What myth about young people are you most keen to debunk?

Michaela: My pet hate – that young people just don’t care about anything other than reality TV and being famous, and are lazy. I know more young people who aspire to be like Malala Yousafzai than Kim Kardashian. Young people are not only the future – they are the here and now. Every decision and action taken by adults directly impacts us now and in the future too.