Youth Participation Best Practice Event 2023

A Shared Learning Event designed and facilitated by Donegal CYPSC Youth Participation Subcommittee

Donegal Children and Young People’s Services Committee (CYPSC) are proud to have been part of the Donegal Youth Participation Best Practice Shared Learning Event on 26th May 2023, hosted by An Grianan Hotel in Burt, Letterkenny.

This Youth Participation Seminar was designed and led by Youth members of the Youth Participation Subcommittee of Donegal CYPSC. These young people represent the Donegal Youth Council and the Youth Advocates of Jigsaw Donegal. The Young people identified 3 key goals they wished to achieve through this event:

  • Young people’s voice is valued by people working or volunteering with young people.
  • The attendees have the chance to explore methods and approaches of youth participation.
  • They are more confident to utilise the voice of young people.

Following a fun ice-breaker, Jigsaw Youth Advocates quickly got everyone down to business and demonstrated a one-to-one support session with a young person and also facilitated a workshop on ‘How young people's voices are included within service planning and what are the challenges to meaningful involvement and influence of the voices of young people within each organisation’.

Eadaoin Nic Con Ulladh, the youth co-chair of the CYPSC set the scene of the day by speaking about her journey through Youth Participation from a Foroige Youth group in Dungloe, and being part of Donegal Youth Council to ensure the voice of young people was heard and involved. She spoke of how “it is important to hear the voice of young people” an how her involvement in Youth Participation structures including Donegal CYPSC led to her interest to study and be involved in the social care sector.

Guest speakers on the day included Dr. Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, and Dr. Laura Lundy, Professor of Children's Rights and author of the Lundy model. Dr. Muldoon discussed his role as Ombudsman for Children to ensure and promote children's rights. While the Ombudsman investigates complaints and remains separate from the government, Dr. Muldoon highlighted the importance of the child's voice. The Ombudsman for Children's Office a Youth Advisory Panel was established and has been critical in ensuring the voice of children and young people is heard while on the issues and concerns impacting them most.

This message was very much echoed by Dr. Lundy, who once again highlighted the right of children and young people to be heard and listened to. Dr. Lundy discussed the Lundy model of Youth Participation now used as the National Framework for Youth Participation by the Irish Government and internationally. The theory has 4 key elements- Space, Voice, Audience, and Influence. Dr. Lundy discussed many myths surrounding youth participation and finished with a strong message “It’s not the gift of adults. It’s the right of the child”

Next up was a musical interlude from Eunan O’Hagan and Travis Gibson from Deele College, Letterkenny. This beautiful piece of music, composed by Eunan was used in a very successful fundraiser for Jigsaw in Donegal.

Donegal Youth Councillors then demonstrated the Café Model of consultation used at their AGM. This facilitates the discussion with a large group of young people to identify priority issues for their term on Donegal Youth Council by picking a topic, discussing the issue, discussing what changes need to be made on this issue and discussing how this change can happen.

After the event, Youth Councillor Rowan Buchanan said “ The theme of youth participation resonated deeply with all the attendees, with all highlighting the importance to create meaningful opportunities for young people to actively contribute to decision-making processes. It was amazing to see so many adults and organisations wanting to help young people actively participate, share ideas, and demonstrate their passion for making a positive difference. The success of this event reaffirms our commitment to promoting youth participation and creating an inclusive society where young people's voices are heard and valued. I would like to extend my gratitude to the organizers and other young activists involved in making this day a resounding success”.

Aine Mc Kinney, a Jigsaw Youth Advocate and MC for the event said ‘The role of MC at the seminar helped give me the platform to demonstrate why young people should be involved in things. 

Not only that, the success of the seminar, showed that we should play a prominent part because young people are very capable. This event was a huge success with 70 practitioners and young people taking part, sharing their experiences, challenges, learning and successes”.

In appreciation, each of the youth involved in the event were presented with a Donegal CYPSC hoodie and the Lundy Model T-shirt before everyone gathered to share a hot buffet lunch. Donegal CYPSC is certainly looking forward to seeing what this enthusiastic bunch come up with next!

Some more pictures of our Day 

My Journey in Youth Participation :

Donegal Youth Council:

Jigsaw Donegal: