Investing time in teens should be our biggest priority, the Church of Ireland’s new youth worker, Clonakilty native Hilda Connolly tells Emma Connolly
LACK of volunteers is the biggest problem facing young people’s organisations in the area – but for the sake of our teens, it should be our biggest priority.
That’s according to Clonakilty woman Hilda Connolly who is the newly appointed Church of Ireland youth worker in the diocese of Cork, Cloyne and Ross.
The mother-of-two, who was appointed by Bishop Paul Colton, will be working closely with the Diocesan Council and the Diocesan Youth Council to implement a youth programme for the area.
And, most importantly, she will be focusing on making it fun to get involved.
She has lots planned as part of her new role, including setting up new youth groups in the parish and connecting with other groups and activities from other Christian denominations.
Hilda originally trained in hair and beauty but always had a keen interest in working with youth. ‘I completed a foundation level psychology course in 2010. From there I got involved in schools work through the Church of Ireland holding retreat days and workshops in any area that needed addressing – self esteem, bullying, social networking and sex education. I became the co-ordinator of the team in 2011. Since then, my role has developed and in 2014 I was appointed the West Cork youth development officer for the CofI on a part-time basis before my new role since January.’
Hilda is ‘born and bred’ Clonakilty and lives on the Dunmanway Road.
Mum to Rory, (7), and Barry, (6) she said: ‘I didn’t move to far from home when I got married nearly 11 years ago to Kevin Connolly – a Rosscarbery man. We built our home on my dad’s farm, next door to him. Kevin is my greatest support and my rock.’
The second of four girls and one boy, her mum died suddenly when she was almost 17.
‘That’s something that has probably driven me but has developed me too, as I had to grow up very fast and to take on “mom” tasks and jobs from a young age. But my dad was just a super guy and was always there for us all. He lives next door to me and is very involved in the Skibbereen Motor Sport. He competed in the World Championships Rally in 2009. He is a legend and I am his biggest fan.’
Hilda feels that, not just West Cork but everywhere, has realised that it needs to do more for our youth whose challenges include dealing with social media, bullying, exam pressure, relationships, money, self esteem, image and more.
‘There is definitely a lot more [to deal with] out there than when I was growing up. But there is always room for improvement. There are a few areas that run very good Foroige groups now, Ballinascarthy and Rosscarbery being two of them. There is also the option of music programmes, drama, dance, computer groups.’
However, the biggest challenge is to get volunteers and support.
‘It is an amazing and very fulfilling role – and also very entertaining – when you are involved with youth. It does take up a bit of time but for the sake of our teens, it should be a priority. It does shape them and mould them into young adults, if we invest some time into them.’