YOUNG people are too often and too easily criticised in my opinion.

Did you know that something like one in four adults will admit to crossing the road to avoid them?

Do you remember the public service advert on TV? There are three or four boisterous youths walking along the pavement.

A lady tries to avoid them and stumbles. The youths then catch her before she falls and hand her the handbag she has dropped.

It’s all about perception.

Through many years of teaching you did, from time to time, come across annoying behaviour. Yes, it is part of the job to point out that some behaviours are just not acceptable — but that kind of behaviour pales into insignificance when compared with the positives.

The vast majority of young people I had the pleasure to teach were responsible, caring and constructive in their local communities.

I have seen inspiring examples of young people themselves stepping up to the plate to care for and protect vulnerable classmates, actively helping others and wanting to learn and grow into educated and rounded individuals playing a positive role in the lives of those around them.

We should all do a lot more to recognise and highlight the achievements of young people because some of them put the rest of us adults to shame by what they accomplish.

This week sees the launch of Inverclyde’s programme to celebrate 2018 as the Year of Young People.
The aim is to inspire all ages through our young people (aged eight to 26) by celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine on a local — and indeed global — stage.

It is the first time anything like this has been done in Scotland and in fact, anywhere in the world.

We have had themed years before of course, celebrating Scotland’s food and drink, natural landscapes, architecture and design as well as history, heritage and creativity.

But the Year of Young People 2018 differs in many ways, not least because young people themselves have been at the heart of planning and developing the six key themes to help challenge the negative stereotypes.

The year will provide a platform for young people to have their views heard and acted upon, as well as opportunities to showcase their talent through culture, sport and other activities.

It will go a long way to developing better understanding, co-operation and respect between generations and recognise the impact of teachers, youth workers and other supporting adults on young people’s lives

Let us not forget — we were all young once.

Year of Young People 2018 is led by the Scottish Government, working in collaboration with — among others — VisitScotland, EventScotland, Young Scot, Children in Scotland, Scottish Youth Parliament, Creative Scotland and YouthLink Scotland.