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Ask not what your country can do . . .

THE Scottish Executive, boxed in by critics of its youth crime policy, unveiled new plans on Wednesday which it clearly hopes will convince them it also wishes to accentuate the potential of young Scots.

With echoes of President Kennedy's call to young Americans to join the Peace Corps in the 1960s, Jack McConnell, the First Minister, unveiled Scotscorps, aimed at youngsters prepared to volunteer in their communities.

There is to be a new community volunteering certificate and a new initiative to encourage young people from poorer backgrounds to take a gap year.

Awarding certificates to 80 award winners from the Edinburgh Volunteer Centre, Mr McConnell said: "I want to see our young people making headlines for all the right reasons. Every day, across Scotland, thousands of young people are doing incredible work."

The intention, Mr McConnell said, was not just to improve communities but to equip youngsters with "new skills, new ambitions and new motivation to succeed". This was "a win-win for Scotland".

The First Minister also announced he had set up a new working group on volunteering which will report to him directly.

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