There is huge excitement and enthusiasm amongst the children and young people of Longford and Westmeath, who recently participated in the Longford Westmeath (LW) Children and Young Peoples Services Committee (CYPSC), Child and Youth Participation Project.
What is the Child and Youth Participation Project
Approximately 400 children and young people, aged three to twenty four years of age, participated in the project. The aim of which is to capture the voice of children and young people across the two midlands counties. It is envisaged this will also inform the CYPSC’s upcoming Children and Young People’s Plan. In turn this will provide the young people of Longford and Westmeath with a meaningful input into services for Children and Young People in their local area.
This project was overseen by the Child and Youth Participation Subgroup of the LW CYPSC. This group is an excellent example of interagency working at its best, across all age cohorts, and across two counties. The group comprises of eight partners, namely Longford County Childcare Committee, the Family Resource Centres, Tusla, Foróige, Barnardos, Youth Work Ireland Midlands, Westmeath and Longford Comhairle na nÓg and the Westmeath Local Community Development Committee.
How did we get the voice of the child/young person?
It was clear from the outset, that to capture the voice of such a broad age range, this group would need to be creative in how best to engage with the children and young people. It was therefore decided to divide the young people into two age brackets. From this age appropriate workshops were devised, based on the five national outcomes as highlighted in Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures: the national policy framework for children and young people 2014 – 2020.
An art therapist worked with the younger age group (3 – 12 years) in family resource centres, crèches, preschools, schools and afterschool clubs across the two counties. The children created art pieces which represented their dreams, hopes and inspirations. This art work highlighted what was important to them and what mattered most in their lives. Workshops for the 12-24 age group were also held in Longford and Westmeath using a World Café Style. These workshops were facilitated by the Longford and Westmeath Comhairle na nÓg members. Both approaches proved to be a huge success amongst the children and young people, with a wealth of feedback for the LW CYPSC as a result.
Where to now
The project was recently evaluated by the children and young people for the Investing in Children Award on 9th May. It was amazing to see so many children and young people, of all ages, and from across the two counties, come together on the evaluation day. A day that was immensely enjoyed by all in attendance, and a day where the young people themselves were recommending the LW CYPSC receive the Investing in Children Award.The LW CYPSC have just recently been notified that they have been successful in obtaining this Investing in Children Award, which is very exciting.
A full report on the findings from this project is currently being collated, as well as a video clip from the workshops. These will be made available on the Longford Westmeath CYPSC webpage and Longford CCC webpage on their completion. It is fair to say, that this project has brought immense energy and motivation to both the children and young people, and to the LW CYPSC. We look forward to the continued collaborative work by this subgroup with the young people of Longford and Westmeath.
Thank you to guest blogger – Longford Westmeath CYPSC Coordinator Gráinne Reid