Past members of the Neighbourhood Youth Project at the fun day
Carrick-on-Suir's Neighbourhood Youth Project kicked off its 20th birthday celebrations with an exuberant family fun day in Ballylynch soccer field.
The event was blessed with glorious weather and attracted a large crowd of past and present Foróige members from the town as well as local residents and children.
Ballylynch was an apt choice of location for the fun day as it was in this housing estate the Youth Project was founded in 1997.
Foróige South East Senior Youth Officer and Carrick-on-Suir native Sarah Dunleavy said the Project's origins were as a youth club in the community house in Ballylynch. The club organised sports and social activities for young people with local residents volunteering as Foróige leaders.
Sarah's involvement with Foróige actually began as one of the children who joined the Ballylynch youth club as a 10 year-old.
She said a few years later Foróige opened its Neighbourhood Youth Project Centre in Kickham Street staffed by youth officers with the Ballylynch community house becoming its outreach centre.
Today the Project runs a wide range of youth clubs, programmes and services for boys and girls aged between 10 and 18 in the town.
There are homework clubs and youth clubs, social activities for young people, two youth cafes, summer, leadership and citizenship programmes.
Its staff of youth workers also run courses covering a range of issues affecting young people as they navigate their teenage years. They include mental and sexual health programmes, personal development, courses to help young people tackle bullying, drugs and alcohol abuse and deal with the transition from primary to secondary school. The Project has just finished a pilot programme for early school leavers.
The Youth Project's staff also do one-to-one work with young people experiencing difficulties who are referred to the Project by social workers or their families.
NYP Foróige Youth Officer Sheridan Brady said the after-school homework clubs are the starting point for many of their members' involvement with the Project. There are two homework clubs based at Kickham Street and one in Ballylynch. The clubs run for an hour and a half a few days a week supporting children with their homework.
She said when the children arrive at the Club they get a snack and drink before settling into do their homework. The session ends with some games. The Project advertised in recent weeks for new members for its Ballylynch homework club.
The NYP's two youth cafes for teenagers located at Kickham Street and Ballylynch are another big success. The cafes are comfortable havens furnished with sofas and a kitchenette where the NYP's members can meet and hang out, watch movies, listen to music, play X-box or just enjoy a coffee and chat. Up to 20 young people visit the cafes on any given night and they have a waiting list of secondary school students interested in attending the cafe. The cafe is open two nights a week at the NYP centre in Kickham Street and one night a week at the Ballylynch community house.
The NYP also plays a big role in guiding young people to become active in their community through the Foróige Youth Citizenship Progamme. Each autumn, groups of teenagers from the NYP embark on citizenship projects focussing around helping others in their town.
Projects likes "Glamour Gels" where NYP members offered beauty and pampering sessions to elderly people to help combat loneliness among senior citizens, and "Angels In Wellies" where young people helped flooding victims in the town, have won national youth awards.
Sarah Dunleavy said she felt very passionate about the NYP because she knows from experience the positive impact it has on young people in Carrick-on-Suir over the past two decades.
"I was a young parent and Foróige was such a good support to me. The NYP is so embedded in the community and the community get involved in everything we do."
The Neighbourhood Youth Project plans to host a more formal event at the Carraig Hotel on November 10 to mark its 20th anniversary.