A major event around internet safety is taking place in Derry today (Tuesday).
Hosted by the North West Regional College, the one day series of seminars and workshops is coinciding with Safer Internet Day.
The event, organised by the Western Trust and supported by the Public Health Agency, has secured Jim Gamble, the former Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) as the keynote speaker for the day.
Gamble brings with him years of experience in the criminal justice system and is now considered one of the leading voices in the UK in terms of child protection.
Mr Gamble will give professionals who work with school children, youth groups, students and young people across the North West an insight into the best ways to support young people to engage online safely.
The professionals and over 100 young people will also hear from inspirational youth speaker and author Wayne Denner on the importance of protecting your online reputation.
An event spokesperson said: “The internet has changed almost every aspect of our daily lives. It provides great opportunities for young people, if they are equipped with the knowledge of the potential risks associated with social media.”
Speaking prior to the event, Wayne Denner said: “What we post and share online can impact our reputation for years – most of it is irreversible. It is vital young people get serious about protecting their online reputation if they want to get ahead in jobs and life opportunities.”
Wayne speaks to groups across the world about their online activities, however he does not focus on the negative. He encourages people to see how positive the online world can be for them, if they post appropriately.
Sonia Montgomery, Assistant Manager, Health Improvement Department and Chair of the Western esafety Steering Group, said: “The Trust’s Health Improvement Department has recognised that social media is a powerful medium, which can be used to share health messages and to support individuals to make healthier choices.
“However, evidence suggests that practitioners are not always aware of what young people are able to access online. Although most information is positive and beneficial, unfortunately some young people will unknowingly put themselves at risk. The challenge for us is to learn how to communicate with our young people and get positive messages into their virtual world that will impact positively on their health and wellbeing.”
The North West Regional College’s Health, Welfare and Safeguarding Officer Ann McGarrigle said she was delighted to have two such leading figures attending on the day:
She said: “We work closely with our student population to highlight the risks and rewards of online engagement.
“ We are so pleased that this will be supported by the workshops with Wayne Denner, and we hope to learn techniques and tips from Jim Gamble on how best to move forward with this work.”