One of the young people walked out of the building and commented, “I felt like a VIP.”

Today is my last working day with Le Cheile and my final blogpost on Empowering Youth.  How the time has flown by! I’m sad to be leaving such a wonderful organisation whose staff go above and beyond for the families involved with the Probation Services.  My programme will live on through Le Cheile’s youth mentoring services, which covers 11 counties all over Ireland.   In the last week, I’ve trained the majority of Le Cheile staff in programme delivery.

I look forward to hearing more stories from young people like we had on Tuesday.  Vodafone Ireland HQ in Leopardstown in Dublin opened their doors to our young people and mentors from Cork and Waterford who have successfully completed the Empowering Youth Programme and organised a day out like no other!

They were treated to an interactive tour of the building, a visit from the CEO Anne O’Leary, and presentations from employees of the Foundation, Technology, Human Resources and Enterprise.

One of the young people walked out of the building and commented, “I felt like a VIP.”  While another spoke about not having a Leaving Cert and how their Empowering Youth project had helped them get into college to study journalism since the beginning of October.  I was also delighted to hear she’s aiming for my World of Difference job next, why not?! 🙂

No matter what challenges they face in life, young people are resilient and can afford to aim high because they’ll get there in the end.  We (state, corporate & the community/voluntary sector) have a collective responsibility to continue encouraging them to pursue their goals and as my dad would say most importantly be happy in life!

This is my final post from this account and I may continue blogging in the future!  I look forward to my next chapter in the Law Department of University College Cork.

Take Care & Keep in Touch.

Empowering Youth nearly 12 months in!

It’s hard for anyone to believe, let alone me, that my World of Difference year is close to an end.

Over the past 12 months we have trained up to 24 volunteer mentors from Cork, Waterford, Tipperary and Dublin to support our young people on the Empowering Youth Programme pilot.

Cork has concluded, Waterford has one young person continuing with the programme and Dublin is just getting started. We’ve had an 53% engagement rate in Cork, 80% engagement rate in Waterford/Tipperary and Dublin is still tbc.

We have raised 5,000 euros towards programme services costs.

I have listened to 11 youth advisors around content development, reward and resources for Empowering Youth.

I have been guided by 6 members of an Empowering Youth Advisory Group from the Probation Services, an Garda Síochána, Vodafone Ireland and Le Chéile.

I’ve spoken with Newstalk, the Irish Examiner etc. to help raise Le Chéile’s brand awareness externally.  We hit 500 likes on Facebook the other day!

Next month, I will train 10  Le Chéile staff ‘Train the Trainer’ style, get involved in the One Young World Conference here in Dublin and host our young people, mentors, parents/guardians, staff etc. in Vodafone Ireland HQ  for the first time ever.

I had 1 job to do, did it to the best of my abilities and I’m confident Empowering Youth will live on through our mentoring service.

EY Programme Testimonial from Sharon Kennedy, Probation Officer Waterford

“I attended the award ceremony and was impressed by the level of commitment from the young people and their mentors.  The piece of work that my client researched was very impressive, it was a difficult topic and it may lead to her writing letters to government officials in the future.  It has ignited her passion in this area.  The confidence my client gained from the experience along with her self development and personal learning is remarkable.  I would highly recommend this programme in the future.”

Empowering Youth Comes to Dublin

I hope everyone’s having an enjoyable and relaxing summer. Given the temperature drop in Dublin it appears that autumn is already creeping in! Back to school soon and Empowering Youth Programme Training, which kicks off this coming Saturday. It will be my first time training volunteer mentors from Le Chéile’s Dublin projects and I’m very much looking forward to it!

The summer months have been spent gathering feedback and recommendations for the Empowering Youth Programme pilot. My manager Mary and I have been chatting with young people, mentors, Le Chéile staff & the Probation Services. The most noteworthy recommendation has been that that the programme timeline ought to be extended. Going forward, the programme could take anything from 13 to 30 weeks depending on the young person and their mentor. This will ensure that the young person has a balance of fun, focus and time out in their mentoring sessions.

Painting a clear picture of what Empowering Youth is from the very beginning is something I’ve been working on. Information packs as well as a short video will be available to our young people, the Probation Services, parents and Le Chéile staff as we continue our pilot in Dublin.

I’ve been busy making adjustments to the programme content over the past few weeks, listening to feedback from the young people (aged 14-21) doing the programme has been mixed with inspiring videos from Mark Pollock, Kid President and Sophie Maxwell appealing to some and not to others. Each young person is different, and luckily the mix of content caters for everyone.

Le Chéile’s Limerick Coordinator Alan and I have developed a new part of the programme, which looks at how certain decisions we make in life can rightly or wrongly have an effect on ourselves, our family and friends and our community. I’m excited to see how the young people of Dublin work through this.

A Memorable Evening: Celebrating Empowering Youth in the SouthEast

On the 15th of July our young people arrived with their mums, dads, grandmothers and friends to celebrate participating in the Empowering Youth Programme after 13 challenging weeks. They were greeted by Le Cheile & the Probation Services with a warm handshake and nervously awaited their mentors arrival.

I welcomed everyone to the event congratulated them all on successfully completing the programme and reminded them of the skills they’ve worked on over the past 13 weeks: communication, listening, research, problem solving, teamwork, commitment, presentation & public speaking.

They were surprised to hear about the variety of social issues chosen by young people in Cork and themselves to look into further: teenage binge drinking, drug abuse, homelessness, animal cruelty, depression, psychological abuse of the elderly & emotional abuse of children to name but a few.

The mentors were given a opportunity to say a few words about how they both got on and although the young people looked a small bit embarrassed there was glimmers of pride coming through. Each of the young people felt comfortable to say a few words on their social issue and that they enjoyed the programme overall. One of the young people came prepared with typed notes and took us through their project book. Another noted the importance of the voice of children and they were delighted to have the opportunity to use their own. They commented that they too had an opinion and at times need to look into a topic further to enhance it. There were notable changes in the young peoples’ confidence and wanting to do something positive in their community.

There was a lovely informal flow to the evening. The food and decorations went down a treat and people felt comfortable. A father of one of the young people impromptuly asked to say a few words and said to another young person that he was delighted that he’d chosen to look at the issue of depression as young people need to talk about it more as it’s an issue affecting the whole community.

Quote from young person who will use her project book as part of her portfolio to apply to college:

“I realise now that further education i.e. college could help me learn more and do more on my social issue.”

“It gets you looking at the problem and the solution, it’s good.”

I’ve trained 15 volunteer mentors in the Empowering Youth Programme Pilot to work one-to-one with each young person and a source of support and encouragement.

53% of our young people & their volunteer mentors have engaged with the first pilot programme in Cork with their projects focusing on animal cruelty, homelessness, cyberbullying, drug abuse and teenage binge drinking as their social issues of choice. 

80% of our young people & their volunteer mentors have engaged with the second pilot programme in the SouthEast with their projects focusing on depression, institutional abuse of children in the care system and psychological abuse of the elderly as their social issues of choice.

Our young people are:

  • aged between 14 and 21 years of age
  • are currently involved with Irish Youth Justice
  • some have drug/alcohol issues
  • some have literacy issues and ADHD
  • some are not in formal education
  • some are leading their mentoring sessions for the first time
  • some are feeling empowered to visit the library on their own through the Empowering Youth Programme

Feedback

 “This programme gets you looking at the problem and the solution, it’s good.  Brings you along step by step.  I didn’t know what social issues were before chatting with you about this.” Le Chéile former mentee advising on the development of EY.

 “The success of this programme all centres around the fact that the mentee has a real interest, it’s not an academic exercise and is relevant to his life.”  Experienced Le Chéile mentor matched with mentee for one year.

“He spoke about bullying, feeling a bit of an outsider.  He told me that a young person had come out recently in his class and how he really respected that.”  Experienced Le Chéile mentor matched with mentee in the past four months.

The general consensus is that the programme timeline needs to be extended as 13 weeks is too short.  We’re looking at interchanging non Empowering Youth mentoring sessions with Empowering Youth mentoring sessions to suit the young person’s needs.  Depending on the young person the programme could last anything from 15 weeks up to one year.