Making a stand
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A FORMER Forres Academy school dux is to make a speech at a Europe-wide meeting of political activists.
Philosophy and Linguistics student Laura Zieger MacPherson (19), formally of Sanquhar Road now at the University of Glasgow, is one of 120 young people from across Europe who has been selected to take part in a symposium in Strasbourg from September 18-20 on the theme of encouraging youth participation in the democratic process.
She said: "It's really important for young people to be involved in politics because we are the people who will be most affected by local, national and international political decisions.
"This is why I wanted to take part in the symposium in Strasbourg - the best way to create positive political change in Europe is to get young people from different countries and backgrounds together to discuss current issues and find creative solutions."
The European Commission and the Council of Europe in the field of youth have organised symposium to explore questions, tensions, challenges and opportunities regarding political participation.
These include the ability to express political opinions in diverse ways, to be heard, vote and stand in elections, to engage in civil society organisations, demonstrate or protest engage in issue-based or online activism.
Laura first got involved in politics during the Scottish Independence Referendum of 2014, helping out with the Forres 'Yes' group and taking part in local demonstrations.
More recently, she has been involved with Our Future Our Choice (OFOC), a pro-European Union advocacy group for young people, since January this year.
She explained: "I was one of many young people fed up with Brexit and didn't see the point in actively engaging with (Westminster) politics.
"I happened to walk past a stall outside the university library where they were asking people to sign an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn, requesting that he oppose the Government's plans for Brexit and to push for a People's Vote/second referendum. I got chatting to one of the members who invited me to a meeting.
"Since then, I have been interviewed for an international publication by a French journalist, got my friend's and flatmates involved with the group, and travelled to London to take part in the People's Vote march."
Laura believes that it is more difficult to be heard politically in Forres but it is still worth trying to make your voice heard.
She said: "It is more challenging to get involved living in Moray because you are further away from the Central Belt. However, there are more and more small groups popping up where people are making their voices heard such as Yes Forres, Highlands for Europe and Extinction Rebellion. There are also more crowdfunding campaigns for travel so that people from the north-east can take part in events in the cities."
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