A GROUP of schoolchildren are celebrating after collecting a top national award.

Children from the StreetsAhead Tranent project collected the Children and Young People’s Award from Kevin Stewart MSP, minister for local government, housing and planning, at the Scottish Awards for Quality in Planning last week.

The scheme was launched in 2016 as a partnership between Fa’side Area Partnership (FAP), East Lothian Council, Children’s Parliament, Recharge youth centre, enjoyleisure, local businesses, groups and volunteers to explore children’s views and experiences of their local community and built environment, examining how these factors impact on children’s rights and wellbeing.

Judges were “impressed with the depth of the project” and said: “The consideration given as to how best to engage with children was first class.

“With special mention to the Children’s Parliament and the council for their support, this project excelled in creativity, in particular through the creation of a mural.

“The role young people can play in improving their places was taken seriously and in the council’s words ‘the kids held them to account’.”

The youngsters’ hard work was rewarded when they represented Scotland at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, earlier this year.

Simon Davie, area manager for FAP, said: “In the Year of Young People 2018, Fa’side Area Partnership are immensely proud of our amazing children who created the StreetsAhead Tranent mural back in 2016.

“Our children have shown a huge amount of commitment, effort, learning and development over the past two years.

“This has culminated in our children influencing the Scottish cabinet to meet with children on an annual basis and report back on the action they are taking nationally, and influencing the United Nations to include children in the planning and design of their Day of General Discussion on the rights of the child.

“So our children are in a very real sense changing national and international policy. But more importantly they inspired local community members to make a difference in their community.

“Blooming Belters is a group of local volunteers who were inspired by the mural to change the look of High Street by bringing back colour and life, by re-introducing bees into Tranent High Street with their wonderful planters and hanging baskets – all of which you can see depicted in their amazing mural sited outside the entrance to Ross High School.”

Paul Reynolds, headteacher of Ross High School, the town’s secondary school, was similarly pleased.

He said: “The staff and pupils at Ross High are all very proud of the work our young people have been involved in.

“They are a credit to the school and this community.

“We look forward to continuing this work with the group in school, ensuring all pupils have their say in continuing to improve Ross High.”

Alan Bell, manager of Recharge, said that it was “great seeing the fantastic work” of the children being recognised.

He added: “The hard work that all 16 children put in in creating the mural was phenomenal and has allowed for people to see a unique way in involving children in planning the future of their town whilst also building up community pride and leaving a legacy that will be there for years to come.”