Programme has been building the self-esteem of our young people

March 15th, 2020 6:25 PM

By Brian Moore

Youth development officers Moira McCarthy and Fern Higgins-Atkinson of the Ability Programme with Kristen Cavanagh and Florin Corcoran.

Share this article

A YEAR down the line and West Cork’s Ability programme is proving a major success as the first participants look forward to a brighter future.

The multi-million euro Ability Programme supports and enables people between the ages of 19 to 25 and is designed to help those who are living with depression, anxiety, stress and low self esteem.

It is facilitated by the West Cork Development Partnership (WCDP) and was rolled out at the beginning of 2019.

‘The programme is designed to help young people gain confidence, motivation and personal development, with the ultimate goal of ensuring they can achieve what they want to in life,’ Ability’s youth development officer Fern Higgins-Atkinson said.

‘This is a unique programme that is designed and tailor-made to the needs of the participants. This is a person-centred approach and this is the key.’

Kristen Cavanagh (20) from Bandon, who was one of the first young people to avail of the programme, felt that her life was stuck and that she needed help to find where she wanted to go and what she wanted to achieve.

‘I really wanted a direction and the Ability Programme was perfect for me,’ Kristen said.

‘I had dropped out of secondary school, but I really wanted to get back into education and the programme helped me to achieve this by giving me the confidence to go out and get going.’

Kristen said the variety of courses available enabled her to focus on her goals, while the personalised guidance she received from the youth officers was just what she needed.

Personal development officer Moira McCarthy said: ‘This is a continual engagement programme that can last weeks or years, depending on the needs of the person involved.

‘We encourage community engagement with volunteer groups and other community organisations. The programme is all about getting out there and moving forward to achieve what you want to achieve, be that training for employment or personal development not everyone is the same and the plan will be designed for the individual.’

Another Ability Programme success story is Florin Corcoran, who has recently set up his own business.

‘The programme really helped me to gain the confidence I needed to be able get on with what I wanted to do,’ Florin said.

‘I was very nervous about taking the risk, I knew what I wanted to do, but I didn’t feel I had the ability to get there. The programme, which was like a family, gave me so much and now my business is up and running. Now, it’s all about “take the risk or lose the chance’’.’

There are now 45 young people taking part in the programme in West Cork.

If you would like to learn more about the programme, you can contact the WCDP on 023 8834035 or log on to

Subscribe to the Southern Star's YouTube channel, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram for all the latest news and sport from West Cork.

Tags used in this article

Share this article