Seven organisations who work together in North West Connemara were delighted to receive an Investing in Children Award recently for their work with young people in the area.
This award is assessed by Tusla Child and Family Agency and is awarded to organisations who can prove that they are committed to hearing the voices and feedback from children and young people. It is judged by the most important participants – children and young people themselves!
The award was given to
- Forum Connemara CLG Adolescent Support Project,
- Forum Ability Programme,
- An Garda Síochána Clifden,
- Clifden Community Playschool,
- Youthreach Letterfrack,
- Connemara North and West School Completion Programme
- Galway Children and Young People's Services Committee.
This particular award is unique for many reasons. It is the first time it has been awarded to seven organisations for collaborative work; it is the first for a Youthreach Centre in Ireland, and An Garda Síochána, Clifden are the only Garda division in Ireland to have received the award.
Investing in Children (IiC)
Investing in Children (IiC) is an initiative that promotes the human rights of children and young people. Originally developed in the UK, the initiative has developed a range of different ways in which children and young people are supported to say what they want to say, and help to improve services used by them, by discussing their ideas with the adults who run the services.
The Award™ Scheme recognises and celebrates examples of imaginative and inclusive practice with children and young people. Organisations applying for the award have to demonstrate dialogue with young people that leads to change. For an organisation to meet the standards set out for the award children and young people are the ones that provide the evidence on behalf of the organisation. Children and young people are the ones that endorse the Investing in Children membership report; because it is a children’s and young people’s award.
Children and Young people were interviewed by a Particpation Officer from Tusla Child and Family Agency about their involvement in the different initiatives by the 7 agencies involved and the Investing in Children award evaluation process resulted in the award being granted.
The children and young people involved in the interview process ranged in age from four to eighteen years. A sample of the projects the young people identified that they were involved in with all the services and listened to, include
- a Gardening Art Project which is situated in the grounds of the Forum Youth Services, Forum Ability and Clifden Play School;
- their involvement in community projects such as summer camps; designing a community mural and fund raising for a defibrillator in Youthreach;
- fun interactions with An Garda Síochána, Clifden in the Killary Adventure Centre,
- an opportunity to present at the Children’s Research Network Conference in Trinity College Dublin,
- designing furniture for the Clifden Youth Café and much more.
Speaking about the gardening project, one young person said:
“The gardening project was an opportunity to meet people in the area. It was a way to break the ice and broke down barriers between young people and old. Some think teenagers can be intimidating.”
The young people in Youthreach identified that the exterior of the building which had an old mural was shabby and are very proud of their work in creating a new one
“When we look at it we feel we have accomplished something which will be there when we leave”
Regarding all the young people and An Garda Síochána, Clifden “We did a team building day in Killary. It was a neutral environment. We had team support and they were really like our peers rather than enemies. In Killary, we were all equal. They’re so like us as well.” Another young person said:
“When they recognise you and it’s nice to know they’re not so strict, they’re just human, like us... They really listened to us. We said it was an issue and they responded and did something about it.”
This is just a sample of the projects the young people were involved in. They demonstrate that all the agencies involved are committed to working together to improve the lives of young people within their community.
Speaking on behalf of An Garda Síochána, Sergeant Damien Prendergast said:
“Having good connections with the local community is an important aspect of policing work. An Garda Síochána, Clifden are delighted to be the first Garda division in the Country to receive this award and work with young people in the area to build positive relationships with them and their families.”
Speaking on behalf of the FORUM Adolescent Support Project, Project Co-ordinator, Marie Feeney said: “Behind this successful award is a dependable partnership between all seven agencies, who seek to deliver an excellent service. These young people have to be commended in all their own community work for others, as they will be the leaders into the future."
Jacqueline Concannon, Tusla Participation Officer said “It was an absolute pleasure to visit all these fantastic services in Connemara. This initiative or indeed, many initiatives, for me exemplified community spirit at its best. The services should be congratulated for the work they have done and the opportunities that they have provided for so many children and young people.”
Sharon Ní Cheannabháin, Connemara North and West School Completion Programme Coordinator added; “They say that it takes a village to raise a child, and the positive results of these collaborative programmes, along with the feedback from the young people during the process of this award, represents the truth and the importance of this proverb in the lives of all the children and young people involved. It is an honour to work with the wonderful young people we work with during these collaborations, and to work with others who are equally as engaged in working with these young people has been a pleasure.".
Speaking on behalf of the FORUM Ability Programme, Project Worker Adam Delapp said:
“Working on this project served as a reminder of what is possible when people from within different strands of the community come together in pursuit of a common goal. Throughout the project, the interaction between people of all ages, and from different backgrounds, created a deep sense of community spirit. Meanwhile, particular recognition should go to the young people involved in this project, who excelled, demonstrating their huge creative talents, strong work ethic and commitment to the task at hand.”
Theresa Bolger, Play School Leader with Clifden Community Play School is delighted to be a part of this partnership, saying " we have gained so much through working with these agencies. We look forward to our children reaping the rewards of the garden project for many years to come. The Investing in Children Award demonstrates just how much we can achieve, when we work together as a community, we are very proud to be a part of."
Yvonne Donohoe, Youthreach Coordinator
"We here in Youthreach Letterfrack are delighted to have been made a part of this collaboration and are thrilled to have received this award. Our ethos is based on working together and listening to one another. The projects that we have been involved in over the year have been student-led and we are proud to have such talented driven students in our centre. We have already our project ideas for next year’s collaborations and look forward to the year ahead. Congratulations to all the services involved."
Caroline Duignan Children and Young People’s Services Committee Co-ordinator commented: “The aim of my work is to encourage collaboration among agencies, which aims to improve outcomes for children and young people. Another important part of my job is to highlight methods of good practice and this is an example of collaborative working at its best."
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