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Stories

Youthbank Waterford

Case Studies

I was so shy and never thought of myself as someone who could really get involved and put myself out there.

Rhiannon Kavanagh, 19, Waterford

My experience with YouthBank is something that I will never forget and has been so instrumental in my growth and development all through my teenage years.

At first, I was quite apprehensive about joining YouthBank as I wasn’t sure if it was the right type of programme for me or not. However, after my first meeting I knew straight away I would gain so many opportunities during my time there.

CONFIDENCE
YouthBank helped me build my confidence. I was so shy and never thought of myself as someone who could really get involved and put myself out there. YouthBank taught me to always strive to be a better version of myself.

It taught me to push the nerves aside and showed me that I was capable of so many things. I couldn’t be happier than I am now seeing how much I’ve grown since joining first.

GIVING BACK
One of the best parts of being a member of YouthBank was that while developing my own skill set, we also were responsible for identifying problems and making positive change in our local communities. There was no better feeling than awarding a grant to a local youth group and seeing how much of a positive impact it had on them and helped them grow and develop also.

SKILLS FOR LIFE
YouthBank taught me communication skills., interview skills, public speaking and about taking responsibility. These have all been transferable to other areas of my life. YB also gave me opportunities to constantly meet new people. I made some really good friends along the way.

JUST DO IT!
I can’t thank our YB co-ordinators enough for how much they cared about each and every one of us. They work so hard to make sure we benefit to the fullest. They should be proud of what they do.

I would encourage any young person thinking of joining YouthBank to just do it!. I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I made and I am so happy I could be a part of such an amazing programme!

Case Studies

Without the project I don’t know where I’d be or what I’d be doing, but I know I’d be worse off

Brigid, Port Laois, Foroige Garda Diversion Project

Scout Mountain

Case Studies

Scouting […] taught me how to learn, not what to learn.

Anonymous, 27

Home was tough, likely tougher than most. A house of far too much drink, continual abandonment by an absent alcoholic workaholic father, serious financial problems and sexual abuse. I guess it was easy for the latter to slip by in the mess of this so-called “perfect middle-class family”.

School was a farce. What a pantomime – every day an exercise in deception, hiding the fact I was scraping D and C, yet working so hard while my friends excelled. It was six years of acting worthy of a TONY – I was the queen of the fake smiles. Years later, on meeting my principle he remarked that he was always in awe of my younger brother and me. He said, our continual ability to walk out of the house in the morning, leave everything behind us, lacing smiles on our faces and bringing joy to school with us amazed him (and he didn’t even know the half of it). How was this possible?

I went to my first Scout meeting as a favor to a friend. She really wanted to go but wouldn’t go alone. As it turned out she left after week two. I may have joined for her but I certainly didn’t leave with her.

My Scout Group was a place that was welcoming, where I was encouraged to be myself and my best self at that. I excelled with support and guidance. Scouting is where I found educators interested in learning alongside me – who taught me how to learn, not what to learn. Scouting is where I escaped as a child. It is one of the safest places I have, even now as an adult, ever had the privilege of. It is a place where everyone is welcome and accepted. I had support and care away from home stresses and worries. Smiles were real smiles.
The key ingredient was the volunteers who supported me in Scouting. My leaders were only ten years older than me when I joined – 21 years young but so old in my eyes at the time. They chose to give up their weekends and Friday nights – spending them in a dusty old community hall or in a leaky tent on the side of a mountain range with 30 young teens. They, who were also Scouts, gave so much to us in their care. From encouragement in leadership roles to a safe journey home when a drunken father could not be relied on, to ensuring that if the babysitting money wasn’t enough to pay for the trip they found a way to make up the difference without a fuss. There was no being left out for a lack of money.

My home life may have been a school of hard knocks which could have left irreparable damage but I believe Scouts helped me get through it, accept it and led me to grow from it. It taught me I was in control of me and my life. It showed me what independence could be for a teenager – and that is liberating!

Today, I am overeducated and underpaid in a job I choose to do every day that works toward making the world a better place. I am happy. I know I can handle whatever this world throws at me until I can’t but that’s ok I have others, my Scout family, to ask for help.
Scouting kept me safe.
Scouting kept me happy.
Scouting kept me sane.
Scouting made me realise my own strengths.
Scouting made me think and question the world.
Scouting let me choose to be independent.
Scouting let me choose my path.
Scouting allowed me to know me.
Scouting allowed me to be me.

Case Studies

I started a youth group in my area, and by god if it wasn’t for them I don’t know where I’d be right now!.

Nicole Joyce, 20, Mounttown Youth Service (Crosscare Dun Laoghaire)

Going into first year is where my stress and anxiety started, trying to find a school that was wheelchair accessible. I was now 12/13 and coming into my teenage years which were the worst years of my life. I started realising more about my disability and wasn’t accepting it. I was questioning why me? Why am I not like others? I was so depressed mainly because I was ‘different’. I became so depressed I would sit in my room all day and just cry. I wouldn’t get into my wheelchair because I would be so angry at it. I’d shut myself off from the world. I was so upset and angry at life, and just wanted to be “normal”.

I started a youth group in my area, and by god if it wasn’t for them I don’t know where I’d be right now! The confidence I’ve gotten from being part of that is unreal. They made sure I was a part of every activity, even if it was hard, they would push me and give me the confidence I needed. I’ve been able to do rock climbs, quad biking, jump off cliffs and many more amazing things

Last January aged 19, with a broken wheelchair, not doing anything, depressed, didn’t know where my life was going. After leaving secondary school nothing exciting was happening in my life. I was a mess.

Then the youth workers called to my house. They hadn’t seen me in a while and asked me what I was doing. I told them how bad things were going for me. They suggested that I might start coming back to the youth service. They arranged for me to see the life coach in the Boylan centre and they came up and collected me on the youth service bus and brought me to every appointment. The Youth Info advocated on my behalf to get a new wheelchair, which allowed me to get out again. Slowly I started to gain confidence and look around to see what was on offer for me. I applied to college and started in Sept 2017, and I love it – just today I came down to fill my SUSI grant out at the youth info centre. I continue to receive support in all aspects of my life from the youth service.

Without Sharon and Michelle and Janette I don’t know where I’d be. The confidence I’ve gotten for being a part of their youth group from an early age has been fantastic. From the beginning they made sure I was included in every activity even with my disability. It’s a place I feel safe and connected. In the youth project I wasn’t different.

Case Studies

Before joining the Irish Girl Guides, I was a shy, introverted individual, with very little confidence.

Amy, 18, from Drogheda

Before joining the Irish Girl Guides, I was a shy, introverted individual, with very little confidence. I found it hard to make friends and was always anxious. One day my friend came to my house in her uniform. I saw her sash filled with badges and I knew I wanted to have the same thing.

I joined my local Brownie unit the next week and I immediately felt happier in myself. Every meeting was filled with games, crafts, songs and fun. Even though we were all different, we were all working towards the same goal. I couldn’t wait for Thursday nights because it was in that hour that I could really be myself. We held bake sales, craft fairs and went on overnight stays. I felt I could express myself in a safe, encouraging environment and make friends with ease.

Moving on to Guides brought much more independence. I got the chance to plan things and try activities that I wouldn’t have if it weren’t for the Guides. I went on camping trips and excursions both in Ireland and abroad, learning to pitch tents, cook for myself and how to make the best of bad situations.

Joining Senior Branch and becoming an assistant leader with a Brownie group is my way of giving back to the organisation that has given me so much. Seeing young girls coming into Ladybirds, quiet and unsure, just like I was, and developing into strong, confident women is a feeling that cannot be put into words.

The Irish Girl Guides’ motto is ‘giving girls confidence’ and they gave me not only that but so much more. The skills I have developed through being a member of this fantastic organisation have stood to me in every aspect of my life. I was never told that I couldn’t achieve or be anything that I wanted to be. The opportunities to develop myself and contribute to society have been endless. The Irish Girl Guides has taken me to places I never imagined I would end up, and allowed me to do things I never thought possible. I have represented IGG abroad at once in a lifetime events, meeting people from all walks of life. The friends I have made through the guiding movement are without doubt, friends for life. It’s the encouragement and empowerment that is given to every young girl within the organisation that makes it special.

Case Studies

I know that without the opportunities SpunOut.ie has given me I would be lost…

Eoin, 22, from Thurles

“I can’t over-stress the importance of SpunOut.ie to me as a young person growing up in Ireland. It’s unique in providing free, online information that young people really need, and getting involved in that work has given me so many opportunities I would never otherwise have had.

I was in Transition Year when I first got involved with SpunOut.ie. I was very interested in making videos back then but didn’t have much of an audience. I remember so clearly when my local youth worker emailed me with an opportunity to cover the Young Scientist Competition for SpunOut.ie in Dublin. I ended up becoming involved on a regular basis, producing many videos and articles for the site that I’m still really proud of.

Later, I joined the Youth Action Panel, the group of young people from across Ireland who help to govern the organisation and advise the staff on what young people need from SpunOut.ie. Last year I was elected to the Board of Directors where I currently sit, liaising between the Board and Action Panel. It’s very satisfying to be involved in the running of a site that I and so many others use very regularly for help, information and advice.

I’ve learned a great amount from my involvement with SpunOut.ie. Personally it’s taught me about health, food, fitness and so much more. Professionally, it’s given me invaluable experience in writing, video production, governance and the realities of running an organisation. I don’t know where I could have learned those skills without it.

Being involved with SpunOut.ie has also made me a more compassionate person. My first interactions with the website were when I was trying to get help for myself. Later, as I became more involved, my focus switched to helping others. SpunOut.ie opened my eyes to how so many of us face so many problems in life, and now the most important thing for me is making sure we are always working to best serve the needs of other young people.

I get such a sense of pride knowing that all my friends and a massive percentage of the people I meet use the site. It’s been so important in my own life and my development as a person. I know that without the opportunities SpunOut.ie has given me I would be lost.“

Case Studies

Never under estimate the power of sharing personal stories showing that “Youth Work Changes Lives”.

Think about what you get out of youth work; what you are proud of; and the changes you’ve seen or brought about. Highlighting your experiences is crucial in raising awareness and building support among politicians and policy makers for groups, projects and initiatives active in your local area.

Have a story to share? Send it on to youthwork@nyci.ie