Young people have their say

Aoife McDonnell and I attended the National Implementation Project Event, which was run by Young Voices on 8 June. It was a day-long event held in the Gresham Hotel in Dublin. Young Voices is a programme run by the National Youth Council of Ireland and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. They organise events throughout the year to give young people the opportunity to give input into legislation and policy that will affect their everyday lives.

Everyone who attends the event can share their personal views, opinions and experiences of what it is like to be a young person in Ireland and as part of the European Union. By gathering together to share experiences from many different backgrounds and standpoints, it is possible to establish the needs and hopes of young people and begin to explore the most effective means to achieve these feats.

The National Implementation Project is a project which came about following the European Union Youth Conference. Two topics were chosen to be discussed at this event: building resilience, self-awareness and confidence in education and the mobility of young people in Europe today, young refugees and undocumented young people.

To introduce each topic, two guest speakers, Kelvin and Grace, shared their personal experiences of each topic with the group and explained how these topics impact the daily lives of young people. After listening to their stories, the group was invited to ask any questions that they had and were given the opportunity to share any personal experiences and views regarding the topics with the group. Both Kelvin and Grace gave very interesting and honest insights into the challenges they have faced regarding resilience and mobility restrictions in their lives. The opportunity to listen to their recollections gave a sense of humanity and weight to the topics, giving the group an opportunity to develop a real understanding and connection with the issues presented. The group discussion allowed for everyone to realise the connection they also had with these issues in their own lives and the lives of those close to them.

After lunch, we formed smaller groups and brainstormed the thoughts and ideas that came from the previous discussions. We looked at each topic separately and discussed how these issues should be dealt with and solutions that could be put in place. We brainstormed our hopes and fears for how access to travel and teaching resilience could be incorporated into policy. Each group then discussed the changes that needed to take place for these hopes to be achieved, and the benefits for both the individual and for their communities if these hopes were achieved. Although the changes seemed large, by breaking the task down and focusing on what is important and worthwhile about each cause, a clear objective and motivation was formed. The different perspective of each group member allowed the group to explore how each issue effected a wide range of communities and individuals, and allowed us to realise how both topics, once broken down into challenges, change needed, and potential impact, shared many similarities.

This event was a great insight into the work and input that young people from many different youth organisations have in the discussion and implementation of policy on both a national and European level. The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) is a body which represents Irish youth organisations, IGG being one of them. Both Young Voices and NYCI events are a great way to explore the potential of your voice and the ways in which we can improve our community to benefit young people both through Guiding and by working with those around us. These events also give the opportunity to meet people from other youth organisations and to learn new ways and approaches to youth work.