GETTING teenagers interested in politics might on the face of it seem a tall order, but not at Canon Lee School, in York, where youngsters are experiencing democracy first-hand with their very own mock election.

Over the coming weeks, while the main political parties gear up for the May 5 showdown, four eager teens from Canon Lee will be electioneering on issues that affect the school in four key areas - health, education, the environment and transport.

Teenagers Nadia Alsarami, Robert Hughes, Megan Bradley and Helen Hartley have been selected to represent the Tories, Greens, Labour and Liberal Democrats Dems respectively at mock elections on May 5.

All four have strong personal interests and ambitions which are sure to influence the voters and are shown in the profiles opposite.

But what are the burning issues that will help focus their campaigns?

Environmentalist Robert Hughes, 14, representing the Greens, is first off the mark with journeys to school - "I want a limit put on car journeys to school, with people not allowed to come in a car on a journey under a certain distance."

On Education, Tory Nadia Alsarami, 15, said: "We should be able to do a wider range of courses at school. It would be nice if we could do things like business studies and more to do with carrying on education after we have left school."

For Liberal Democrat Helen Hartley, 13, school uniform is the hot topic. She said: "I think we should hold a vote on it or something."

And for Labour candidate Megan Bradley, 13, hygiene is top of the agenda. She said: "We should sort out the state of the toilets. They're a bit minging.

"Also, some of the classrooms could be improved with more light, and be better set out."

Canon Lee School itself is in the Vale of York constituency, which also takes in areas like Rawcliffe and Clifton Moor and which is currently held by Conservative Anne McIntosh.

Over the coming weeks each of the candidates will be putting together a manifesto and will be speaking to different year groups trying to convince them they have the policies which would make the most difference.

Each youngster has been teamed up with a member of staff who will be acting as campaign manager.

The programme aims to actively engage students with the electoral process and show how politics affects their everyday lives.

Ivan Noble, head of citizenship at the school and Liberal Democrat campaign co-ordinator, said: "The process really benefits the students because it raises awareness of citizenship and the benefits of participating in society and democracy.

"We hope to mirror the excitement of a real election and help students to understand why their right to vote is so important."

We will be catching up with the youngsters after the results on polling day to find out what they have gleaned from the experience.


Name: Megan Bradley

Party: Labour

Lives: Clifton Moor

Interests: Dance, singing and drama

Favourite TV programme: Coronation Street

Favourite Book: Anything by Meg Cabot

Greatest Achievement: Taking part in the VentureFest business event at York Racecourse last year

Name: Nadia Alsarami

Age: 15

Party: Conservative

Lives: Clifton

Interests: Philosophy, travel and tourism

Favourite TV Programme: Footballers' Wives

Favourite Book: My Girl

Greatest Achievement: I won first place for my presentation at the Access to University show at York University

Name: Helen Hartley

Party: Liberal Democrat

Age: 13

Lives: Rawcliffe

Interest: Trampolining and socialising

Favourite TV programme: Friends

Favourite Book: A Child Called It

Greatest Achievement: Representing the school in a trampolining competition where our team came first

Name: Robert Hughes

Age: 14

Party: Green

Lives: Clifton Moor

Interests: Computers and computer games

Favourite TV programme: The Simpsons

Favourite Book: Harry Potter

Greatest Achievement: Entering this year's maths challenge

Updated: 14:27 Wednesday, April 27, 2005