Young people across the city are being urged to have their say by joining a national vote.
Sunderland Youth Council is encouraging youngsters to address the issues that matter to them by voting in the annual Make Your Mark ballot.
This is such a great opportunity for young people to have a say on the things that matterJoshua McKeith
The Make Your Mark vote, which runs until October 7, is the largest consultation of young people in the country and is open to anyone aged between 11 and 18.
Last year saw 8,348 young people, which was 31% of those eligible, vote in Sunderland, the highest number recorded in the North East, while 954,766 nationally took to the polls to have their say on the topics that matter most to them.
This year Sunderland Youth Council (SYC), which is facilitated and supported by Together for Children, is aiming to get 10,000 of their peers voting.
The top five issues in the ballot box will then be debated by the UK Youth Parliament in the House of Commons in November, an event which representatives from SYC will attend.
Joshua McKeith, 17, an SYC member from Fulwell, said: “Along with the rest of Sunderland Youth Council, I’m determined to reach our goal of 10,000 votes.
“This is such a great opportunity for young people to have a say on the things that matter.
“Several schools are involved across the city as this is a phenomenal event to get involved with.
“It’s not too late, Make Your Mark voting is open until October, so we’re calling on all young people to cast their vote and make their voice heard.”
Fellow member Liam Ritchie, also 17 and from Fulwell, said: “Make Your Mark is a fantastic opportunity for young people in Sunderland, and across the country to have their voices heard as part of the largest youth consultation in Europe.”
SYC, a group of 15 young people aged 11 to 18, works to give a voice to children and teenagers in Sunderland.
The group works with Together for Children to help shape services, regularly meeting with staff as well as Sunderland’s councillors and MPs.
Together for Children’s new chief executive Jill Colbert said: “It is so important for our future that today’s younger generation have a political voice and feel free to express themselves on the issues that matter most to them.
“It’s fantastic that we have such involved young people in Sunderland who are working hard to promote the campaign.
“Through Make Your Mark all young people in the city can have a say on what matters to them, and it’s testament to SYC’s hard work that we had so many votes come in last year.
“For many young people, this might be the first time they have taken up the opportunity to engage with the world of politics and hopefully this will spark an interest that lasts a lifetime.”
Schools across the city will shortly be receiving ballot papers or young people can vote here.