This is Lucia's story of her time at Funky Dragon..
Upon joining Funky Dragon and just sitting in the first meeting, I realised that not only would I be joining a hub of young people across Wales, I would also be joining a movement. The people I met there, some now lifelong friends, have given me my first taste of drive, determination and passion for the rights of young people no matter how bleak a successful outcome may have looked. This organisation not only taught me the ins and outs of democracy and politics, not only how to stand up for what I believed to be right but also how to be the best person I could be. Every achievement was celebrated, every piece of work championed and if I may speak for us all, I believe we felt valued as young people - for some of us this was the first time we have felt this way.
The organisation had a sense of community and belonging; we were proud to be part of it and we were proud of each other. I met young people from all walks of life, allowing me to understand different backgrounds and strengthening my ability to represent my own diverse County. Everyone was friendly, everyone supported each other and it felt like we were all fighting the same battle. It also strengthened our understanding of Party Politics, many of my friends have gone on to study Politics or become Politicians; knowledge of the Country's political agenda is vitally important and I would have not learned it otherwise.
Growing up in my rural community, I often felt like my voice was unheard. I was very shy and although interested in Politics having joined my county forum, I still was not confident in myself. I found speaking to people terrifying, I was so shy that I couldn't even go into a shop and buy something on my own. I wanted to change this, so I took a terrifying risk and signed up to become a member. Joining Funky Dragon gave hope to not only myself and my local forum, but to my entire County who lived by the "we are not in an English city so they don't care" mantra. Suddenly I, along with my fellow County representatives, became the voice of hope to all of these young people. Suddenly we could tell them that the change They want could happen. I began to gain confidence in myself, volunteering to sit in the House of Commons in the televised UKYP event, becoming bold enough to co-chair meetings with Government officials, most notably in my experience the Chief Executive of the NHS. In my final year I volunteered to lead a debate within the group, in front of the rest of the Youth Assembly. This may seem like a small achievement, but without Funky Dragon and without the support and encouragement that I always had from the group and the staff I, a shy girl from the Countryside would never would have been able to do such a thing. Funky Dragon showed me and a lot of others that our voices do matter and that we really can influence change. It is detrimental to cut such a valuable resource for young people's voice; this organisation has changed many lives. I am not by any means calling it a flawless organisation. But I will continue to celebrate its incredible work and the wider opportunities it brings to its members, the confidence it builds in young people, and the voice it provides for Wales.