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There's a Revolution Happening, Right Now

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Politicians always assume that young people don't have a valid opinion. That they're not interested in decision-making, or politics, or the way the country is run. Well they are. And I am. And I see how much young people care every day of my life.

There's a revolution happening at the moment - a movement of young people learning the power of free speech, and the importance of getting their voices heard on the issues that matter to them the most.

Sure, this has happened before all over the world, but it's happening in the UK right now in a pretty new and different way.

jamal edwards

On Wednesday I launched Create the Debate in an East London school called The Bridge Academy, Hackney. Me and Radio 1's Gemma Cairney led a debate with about 30 students on two of the biggest issues facing young people today: the national curriculum and the cost of public transport.

How do we know these are important? Because for the past few months, 250,000 young people across the UK have been voting on the UK Youth Parliament's Make Your Mark Ballot. They were asked to vote for the biggest issues in their world. That's the largest ever youth vote that's taken place in the UK. Are the Politicians listening yet?

Me, Gemma and Georgie Okell from T4 have made a video on each of those issues through BBC Three's Free Speech, the monthly live debate show that debates issues in a way that young people can relate to. None of that Question Time formality.

We're now calling for every secondary school in the country to watch the videos and hold a debate with their students. We've got packs for teachers and lesson plans for Key Stage 3, 4 and 5. It's a big ask, I know. But revolutions are just that. Big.

The difference with this revolution is that it's feeding in to a bigger picture, and one which young people, and Politicians, should take note of. The outcome of these school debates are feeding in to Parliament Week 2012 - a week of activities to get people to engage with Parliament, including a day long debate for young people actually in the House of Commons chamber. I can see it now, all those green benches lined with teenagers, probably talking more sense than the adults.

Not just that, but online too. Right now there's a ridiculously large debate going on between young people over these five issues, all led through the Free Speech Facebook and Twitter pages. I defy anyone to look at these pages and still say young people don't have an opinion.

Create the Debate is an initiative which will helps young people get their voices heard, get their opinions listened to, and get the bug for speaking up. Politics and debates shouldn't be reserved for people who go to posh schools, or for people who wear suits in Westminster. It should be opened up to every young person in the UK. Which Create the Debate will do.

The next episode of Free Speech is on BBC Three on Tuesday 6 November at 8pm. I've been a panellist on this show before, and it's intense, but great. Young people getting fierce with their beliefs - passion that you don't see in all the adults. You want to hear a real opinion? Watch young people spouting it.