First Welsh Youth Parliament member with a life-long, progressive condition elected
The Welsh Youth Parliament announced the results of its second ever elections for young people in Wales, including the election of its first Member with a life-long, progressive condition.
Seth Burke, 13, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD), a genetic disease which causes progressive muscle weakening, will represent Tŷ Hafan children’s hospice in the Senedd for the next two years.
As with the first ever Welsh Youth Parliament in 2018-20, 40 constituency seats were decided by the votes of young people with 20 more Members selected by partner organisations, such as Tŷ Hafan, to ensure the representation of diverse groups of young people. This is a particularly important part of the campaign, as it makes sure the voices of a range of young people are heard on the issues that affect them.
Seth, from the Vale of Glamorgan in South Wales, broke his ankle during the first lockdown in 2020 and ever since then has been a wheelchair user.
Seth Burke, the new Welsh Youth Parliament Member representing Tŷ Hafan , said; “I’m so proud to be a Welsh Youth Parliament Member – and even prouder to be the first Welsh Youth Parliament Member who is in a wheelchair and has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD).
“I want to be a strong voice for other children like me, for other children who use wheelchairs and for children’s hospices, and those families and friends who go above and beyond to make sure that nothing is unachievable.”
Seth added: “After my two years in office, I hope to have helped to create a Wales that is more compassionate to children like myself, and to ensure that Wales’ children’s hospices get all the support they can so they can help even more young people, and, I hope to gain the life experience and skills to go on to do whatever it is I want to do.”
Across Wales, nearly 300 candidates fought for 60 seats with every single constituency in Wales facing a battle to be the area’s representative. Thousands of online votes were cast by young people during the three-week campaigning period.
The successful candidates will formally take their seats in the new year when they meet each other in person for the first time at the Senedd and begin representing 11-17 year olds.
During their term, between 2021-2023, the Youth Parliament Members will focus their energies on three main priority issues. These are a combination of the candidates’ own stated priorities as well as matters raised by young people from conversations gathered in schools, outside events and submitted online.
By meeting regularly, consulting with young people and conducting inquiries, they will discuss the issues that matter most to young people to bring their views to the attention of the elected politicians of the Welsh Parliament.
Elin Jones MS, Llywydd (Presiding Officer) of the Senedd, said; “I’m delighted to be welcoming Seth to the Welsh Youth Parliament as part of our new cohort of 60 Members.
“As the first Member with a lifelong, progressive condition, he will bring a new perspective to the Welsh Youth Parliament and he will be an important voice for children who are similarly affected.
“I’m sure he will be a credit to Tŷ Hafan and the Welsh Youth Parliament throughout the term and I look forward to meeting Seth and all of our new Members in the New Year as they begin representing young people in Wales.”
Speaking of Seth’s election, Maria Timon Samra, Chief Executive of Tŷ Hafan said: “As an organisation we could not be prouder of Seth, who has been coming to Tŷ Hafan for the last five years.
“We are confident that he will be a brilliant advocate not only for himself, but for other young people in his region and across Wales, as well as for Tŷ Hafan, and Wales’ other children’s hospice Tŷ Gobaith.
“Seth already has plans underway to send a survey out to all children across Wales who use a children’s hospice to get an idea of the issues that are important to them. We are confident that Seth, an articulate and engaging boy, will be a force for good – and will show many how important it is to listen to children from all backgrounds, facing different futures. We cannot wait to see him in action.”