The Parliament is to mark 10 years of devolution with a special programme of engagement activities - one of which will involve every child born in Scotland on 1 July 1999.
A member of the public whose daughter shares her birthday with the Scottish Parliament has inspired the format of the day on Wednesday, 1 July 2009.
Announcing a programme of activities for the 10th anniversary today, Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson MSP said the task of contacting more than 150 children, who were born on the day that the Parliament received its full legislative powers, had now begun.
He added that it was only fitting that the children who “share a historic bond” with the Scottish Parliament should be central to the event, which will include an open day for the public and a birthday party for the 10-year-olds.
One such 10-year-old is Megan Manfredini. Following a lesson about the Parliament at her school, St Anthony’s Primary School in Saltcoats, her father Gino Manfredini wrote to ask if the Parliament was intending to do anything to mark its birthday.
As a July 1 baby, Megan received a medallion and a letter from the first First Minister Donald Dewar. Across Scotland, a total of 163 children received identical medallions and a personal letter from the late Donald Dewar in commemoration of the day.
Mr Fergusson MSP, who launched the 10th anniversary programme at Megan’s school today, said: “We are approaching a significant point in our history - a decade of devolution. We want to reaffirm the Parliament’s commitment to engaging with the people of Scotland through the programme of activities announced today.
"It gives me great pleasure to announce that all children born in Scotland on 1 July 1999 will be at the very heart of those activities.
"Like Megan, these are children who not only share their birth date with the beginning of devolution but, by doing so, have also created a historic bond with the birth of our nation’s Parliament.
"In our first decade we have tried new and different ways to share the power with the people of Scotland, such as the Public Petitions Committee and the Festival of Politics which are keenly studied by other legislatures. It is fitting to continue to develop and build on this work as we mark the 10th anniversary.”
Speaking at the launch Megan, currently aged 9, from Ayrshire, said: “I am really excited about my birthday and can’t believe I’ll be having my party at the Parliament. It really will be a special day.
"We learn about the Parliament at school but I am the only one here born on the same day. I can’t wait to meet the others born on 1 July 1999 too.”
Her dad Gino, 42, who inspired the children’s party next July, said: “I remember thinking before I emailed about 1 July 2009 that it would be nice if the Parliament recognised the connection to those who shared its birthday.
"It’s heartening to know that they too value this special bond.”
Megan showed off the medallion which was issued by Donald Dewar and given to every child born on 1 July 1999.
The main activities being taken forward as part of the 2009 public engagement programme are:
- A range of new partnerships aimed at working with three specific groups who are under represented in parliamentary engagement: disabled people, people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and hard-to-reach young people.
- New educational events designed to attract and engage a wider cross section of young people with the Parliament and political issues.
- A travelling exhibition as seen through the eyes of ten people living in Scotland. The Ten Faces of Scotland exhibition will focus on people’s experiences of engaging with theScottish Parliament over the last decade. It will be displayed in community venues and will visit up to ten sites across the country during 2009. Members have been asked to nominate a particular constituent who has an exciting story to share it with the rest of Scotland about engagement with the Parliament. The exhibition will include photography by the Parliament’s photographer and an interview detailing their story. The exhibition will also be used for committee and community outreach sessions.
- A new How the Scottish Parliament Works conference aimed specifically at community groups to provide more information about how to engage via the political system on local and national issues.
- The Parliament will also seek to mark the 10th anniversary through existing activities suchas the Festival of Politics and events like the Dewar Debate. Discussions are underway as to how this might most effectively take place. All of these activities will provide further opportunities for members and the public to engage.
The majority of these activities will be delivered within existing budgets, with some modest additional resources for the travelling community exhibition.