Fifteen year-old Shanice Doherty wants people to know that young people in Derry care about their communities.
Shanice, who’s from St. Joseph’s Place in the Bogside, helps out with many of the local youth clubs and was one of the young people who took part in the U-Turn Project’s ‘Operation Exposure’.
“People need to know that just because a young person wears a hoodie doesn’t mean that they are up to no good. I know young people who care about their communities more than some adults - we want to make a difference.” said the St. Cecilia’s College student.
Shanice, along with 50 other young people and youth workers, attended a presentation evening in Pilot’s Row on Wednesday evening.
The event was a conclusion to the TRIAX Winter Intervention Programme and was funded by the Western Education and Library Board (WELB) Youth Service.
A number of youth organisations in the TRIAX area worked in partnership to provide a range of activities for the young people living in the area.
Wednesday’s event recognised the hard work and dedication displayed by the young people and everyone involved was presented with an accredited qualification.
Shanice said that without the help of the local youth clubs and youth workers she doesn’t know what young people in the area would do.
“Some of the youth workers in this area work really hard to make sure that young people get the right opportunities.
“My friends and I want to play a part in our own communities and that’s why we got involved with Claire Maguire and the U-Turn Project’s ‘Operation Exposure’.”
‘Operation Exposure’ was set-up to contrast the P.S.N.I. led initiative that attempted to determine the identity of people who allegedly carried out crimes, by printing their photos in local newspapers.
A team of local young people worked with local youth worker Claire Maguire to design a leaflet detailing all of the community work the young people have carried out. The leaflet will be delivered to every home in the TRIAX area within the next few weeks.
“Working on the ‘Operation Exposure’ project was brilliant,” said Shanice.
“It gave the young people of this area the chance to show off the positive impact that young people have.
“Just because we are teenagers and we stand and talk to our friends outside at night doesn’t mean that we are bad people.
“I am focused on my studies at school and treat everyone with respect. When I get older I want to be a youth worker.
“But I feel that when older people look at me all they see is a teenage girl in a hoodie. They don’t know that I want to do well at school, they don’t know that I want to help and improve the Bogside. They don’t know because they judge me and that’s wrong.
“The only way we can stop the gap widening between young people and older people in our community is by making them see the hard and good work that we do. Hopefully ‘Operation Exposure’ makes a difference.”
Peter Nixon is a 25 year-old youth support worker from Ballymagroarty. Peter has worked out of St. Mary’s Youth Club in Creggan since he was 19. Peter completed his BCU Level One in Canoe Coaching and is also qualified to take outdoor education courses. He was presented with his certificate on Wednesday night.
“When I was younger I was involved in anti-community behaviour. I was involved in joy-riding and I did things that I am not proud of but after chatting to local community worker I decided to volunteer at St. Mary’s Youth Club - it was the best decision I ever made.
“I absolutely love what I do now and I enjoy the fact that I can help young people who are thinking about going down the path that I went down to think twice about what they are doing.
“There’s great youth work going on in Derry and the more people know about it the more of an impact it will have.”
Youth First co-ordinator, Elaine Doherty, described the event as a turning point for young people in the area and said that each of every one of them is a credit to their local communities.
“All you have to do is look around and see how much this means to all of the young people here. The TRIAX Winter Intervention Programme was a perfect example of how groups can work in partnership and none of this would have been possible had it not been for the help and support of the WELB Youth Service,” she said.
Stephen Quigley from WELB Youth Service, said that the reason the event was a success was because it gave the young people a sense of achievement.
“When I left school I came away with one G.C.S.E. but I look around here tonight and see all of the young people with their certificates - I wish this kind of project was available when I was younger.
“I was really impressed with what some of the young people had to say on collecting their awards.
“It’s great to see the young people taking pride in their communities and hopefully through a project such as this one they will build upon their educational attainment.”
Fifteen year-old Dan Carlin was one of 40 young people from all over the TRIAX area who took part in a OCN Level One in Law and Order.
Dan said that the project helped him to understand the consequences of anti-social behaviour and added that it will definitely force young people to think twice.
“The great thing about the Law and Order course was that we were able to see the aftermath of anti-social behaviour.
“I think a lot of young people do what they do because they don’t understand the impact of their actions.
“I enjoyed taking part in the course and it’s always nice to get a certificate.
“I didn’t know everyone on the course which meant that I made new friends too.
“The more projects and courses like this for young people the better in my opinion. It’s through projects like this that we get to know, respect and care for our communities - that has to be seen as a good thing.”