Monday, February 6th, 2017.

New youth council members (l to r) Earika Karki, Stephanie Downs and Zara Rizwan

Excelsior Academy’s newly elected Newcastle Youth Council members are already planning to raise the issues that matter to young people across the city.

Stephanie Downs, Earika Karki and Zara Rizwan will gather with their fellow councillors for their first full meeting later this month.

Excelsior pupils cast the most votes in the council election and secured the most representatives on a triumphant night at the vote count in Newcastle Civic Centre.

“I was on the council for two years so to get re-elected made me feel really good,” said Stephanie 17.

“I was quite anxious because a lot of names were read out before they got to mine. I will work to make sure that children’s voices in Excelsior are heard on the council.

“I think there’s more that can be done in the city about work experience and having facilities such as parks where children can go rather than sit at home.”

Zara, 13, said: “I think the transport system is an issue – there are lots of kids in Year 9 and other years that keep saying bus fares are going up and not down making catching the bus to school really expensive.”

For 17-year-old Earika, mental health and well-being top her agenda for change.

“My main priority is to get more knowledge to pupils and staff about mental health which is a skill that schools need more of and can affect pupils’ education,” she said.