THERE was a strong West Cork input into a message delivered to politicians that they need to invest more in youth work.
The National Youth Showcase entitled ‘Youth Work Changes Lives’ took place in the Mansion House, Dublin recently.
The showcase brought together over 300 young people representing every constituency in Ireland to celebrate the value, diversity and vitality of youth work in Ireland. A key message emerging from the day was that hundreds of thousands of young people and their communities take part in and benefit from youth work, and that there’s a need to sustain and increase funding for youth work to meet the needs of our growing youth population.
The event – organised by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) – and addressed by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone T.D. gave young people from around Ireland the opportunity to speak directly to public representatives and share with them first-hand what they do, what they learn and the benefits of youth work for them and their local communities.
Speaking at the event, Mary Cunningham, Director of the NYCI said: ‘This event showcases the exceptional quality of youth work happening throughout Ireland and celebrates the contribution of young people to Irish society and our local communities.
‘The youth work sector benefits over 380,000 young people each year, supported by the efforts of 1,400 professional staff and 40,000 passionate volunteers, and yet much of this good work goes largely unnoticed. That’s why this event ‘Youth Work Changes Lives’ is so important.
‘It is really important that young people - particularly at grassroots level – get the chance to reach out and engage with local politicians, TDs, Senators and Councillors. It will also provide young people with the opportunity to call on their local politicians to support increased investment in youth work in the upcoming budget.
‘When politicians hear, see and experience the contribution and value of youth work in their local communities, particularly when expressed by young people themselves, it sends a very powerful message that this work is worth supporting and funding,’ concluded Ms Cunningham.
The event included over 300 young people at 39 stands each representing their constituency and meeting their local politicians. There were also interviews with young people who shared powerful experiences of how youth work has changed their lives.