The Young People’s Laureate initiative aims to inspire self-expression and increase literacy and communication skills in young people. By using a wide range of disciplines, the project has been developed to engage the next generation in new and innovative ways.

The initiative was launched in October 2011 with Catherine Fisher appointed as the first Laureate. The initiative was further developed by performer and poet, Martin Daws, from 2013-2016. Sophie McKeand was Young People’s Laureate Wales for 2016-18.

The Young People’s Laureate encourages reading, writing, conversation and communication within the young communities of Wales. Unique not just to Wales but to the UK as a whole, the Laureate works positively with teenagers and young people, particularly those from hard to reach and disadvantaged backgrounds.

The Laureate’s task is to re-engage young people with reading and writing and by doing so empower them with a sense of belonging. All young people are writers and tellers of stories, but they may not always have someone to read or listen to them. Some write on paper, others text and blog, many social network and some write on walls – the Young People’s Laureate aims to bring together words and technology for the digital generation.

About Sophie McKeand

Sophie McKeand is a poet and educator from north Wales. She won the Out Spoken Innovation in Poetry Award in 2015, was longlisted for the Poetry Society‘s National Poetry Competition in 2014, and was the Poet-in-Residence at Focus Wales Festival in 2016. Sophie has performed at numerous festivals and events, and in November 2015, she embarked on a Wales-wide tour to coincide with the publication of her second poetry pamphlet, Hanes.

She is a writer and producer for various National Theatre Wales TEAM projects, and regularly facilitates workshops for Literature Wales as well as organisations such as Arts Council of Wales, Age Cymru and Oriel Wrecsam. She is also a Creative Practitioner for Arts Council Wales’ Lead Creative Schools scheme.

In her new role, Sophie will figurehead some of Literature Wales’ flagship projects for young people, including Slam Cymru, Wales’ first bilingual slam competition. She will also run workshops with families and community groups as part of Literature Wales’ Roald Dahl-inspired outreach scheme, Invent your Event.

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