Young people from Derry and the North West celebrated recently after being completing the Western Education and Library Board’s (WELB) ‘Change Awareness Participation and Equality’ (CAPE) programme,
The WELB Inclusion Unit aims to empower young people with disabilities and to promote inclusive practice throughout the youth service and other organisations. The young people identified for the CAPE Youth Forum included those at greater risk of social exclusion, marginalisation and isolation and who were not involved in mainstream youth clubs, groups or other organisations.
The group was led by WELB Inclusion Unit Youth Worker Danielle Collins and WELB Youth Support Worker Peter Moore. After consultation, CAPE Youth Forum emerged as a group of young adults with disabilities from different organisations such as Destined, Cedar Foundation, Foyle Down Syndrome and Pennyburn Youth Club.
From July 2013 until March 2014 the enthusiastic young people met every Friday night to take part in developmental youth work.
Members of the Youth Forum engaged in a range of activities to improve their confidence which included achieving an OCN Peer Mentoring accreditation; taking part in a residential; developing team building and presentation skills and training in disability awareness and multi-media.
Danielle Collins WELB Inclusion Youth Worker praised the young people who participated in the programme, she said: “CAPE Youth Forum was a huge success. The group had a positive impact on the Youth Sector in the North-West area and highlighted the issue of exclusion for young people with disabilities.”
Using experience gained through the training the young people organised an awareness night in Long Tower Youth Club attended by almost 100 people. With the support of the WELB Multi Media Suite, members designed and produced a media campaign, including posters, a self-designed logo, flyers and media packs to be distributed to youth organisations in the North West.
During the ‘not a label’ campaign, members of the group produced and broadcast a ten minute interview for local radio and organised callouts to local youth groups to promote their campaign, met youth leaders and got involved in youth club activities to raise awareness and encourage youth groups to engage with more young people with disabilities.
Parent, Una Burke, said she felt the entire CAPE programme was a very positive experience for her daughter, she said: “It was great for Aoife’s self-esteem and has increased her confidence. The group were keen to know how proud we felt about them and it provided a nice opportunity for them to be centre stage.”
The WELB Youth Service would like to thank all those organisations that signposted young people to the Youth Forum and who helped to facilitate workshops, training and host awareness nights.
The project was funded by the Department of Education (DE) and facilitated by the WELB Inclusion Unit, for young people in Derry, Limavady and Rural Foyle.