How wee Callum gives us hope for the future - Ilona Amos

A seven-year-old schoolboy from West Lothian is my newest hero and should be touted as a role model for children everywhere.

At a time of life when most of us were probably eating handfuls of earth and throwing stones at unsuspecting wildlife, Callum Isted was at Holyrood discussing his concerns about the planet with Scotland’s First Minister.

He was granted an audience with Nicola Sturgeon this week after becoming the youngest person ever to present a petition to the Scottish Parliament.

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Concerned about the growing mountain of plastic debris polluting the environment, he is calling for disposable water bottles given with primary school lunches to be ditched and all pupils in Scotland to be given a reusable metal replacement.

Callum Isted, aged seven, presents his petition

It’s a good shout, and I reckon he has a strong chance of sparking action.

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Callum had already demonstrated the level of his commitment to the cause by raising more that £1,400 – through various means, including a 134-mile sponsored walk covering the entire John Muir Way – to help his own school in Livingston to buy refillable metal bottles.

He is not the first young person to stand up and make their voice heard on some of the most important issues of the day.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai began speaking out against Taliban oppression of girls and their right to education when she was only 11, while Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg first protested environmental inaction as a 15-year-old.

Callum may not be so well known – at least not yet, watch this space – but he’s no less important. And though his voice may yet be little, he has just as much right to be heard.

And that goes for every child and young person.

Yes, we still have tooth fairies and Santa Claus, but it seems like kids today are so much better informed and more engaged with the real issues of the day – and perhaps more frightened and angry as a result.

As well as admiration, these children and young people inspire great hope for the future and I think they should be encouraged and supported to shout, scream and demonstrate what they want for the world.

From wee seeds, big strong trees grow.

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