Blogging for and about Youth Work and Young People

Archive for July, 2009

International Youth Work and Blogging thriving in West Sussex!

It’s summer time and we’re very busy here at the moment. The group flying out to India left in high spirits yesterday and already their Blog is getting a lot of hits. We’re looking forward to starting to get the young people’s comments and views from India soon. So far the technology that we’ve set up appears to be working so lets’ hope it holds up to the next few weeks. The group have 2 Dell netbooks, 4 flip video cameras, 2 dongles (from India) and a few static digital cameras. (As well as a couple of hard drives.) During their time in India they are working towards the ASDAN International Award. Keeping the blog and recording their experiences will go a long way to evidencing their learning without having to do lots of paperwork. (Although they also have some booklet type diary prompts to support both staff and young people.)

West Sussex Inspire India 2009 group at Heathrow

West Sussex Inspire India 2009 group at Heathrow

On Monday a group of 12 young people arrive from China with 3 youth work staff. Colleagues and the young people who went to China last year have been working hard to ensure that we have a full programme organised for them, which we will also hopefully be blogging about on the West Sussex Youth Service Chinese Exchange Blog that was set up last year.

So – a busy time ahead both abroad and in the UK once our Summer Activity Programmes kick off. We’ll let you know how our blogging experiences continue soon.

Countdown to Inspire India overseas

We’re in the final run up to the overseas part of the Inspire India Programme. I talked about this Targeted Youth Support programme more fully back in February in this post. Last Monday I went up to London on a quick return visit to get the final visas for the last few members of the group. We’ve been really successful in keeping nearly all of the original group of young people who have made enormous efforts to get themselves ready for the experience. 30 young

West Sussex Youth Service Inspire India 2009

West Sussex Youth Service Inspire India 2009

people from across West Sussex have been involved in the taster weekend and then less than 4 weeks ago we had the Challenge Weekend residential where they were camping at our campsite in Stedham. During the weekend they hiked, cooked for themselves and learnt more about Indian Culture. Working with Staff from Raleigh and West Sussex Youth Service they tested out kit (rucksacks, water ‘bladders’, boots) and also got to know each other better.

Everyone has been preparing for going and on Monday we are having our kit check and ‘launch’ to wish the group good luck. The group will be checking in their kit and then turning up on Friday with their hand luggage ready to go! We had a last minute drop out yesterday (even though we have been taking to them all regularly and offering lots of support on the telephone and by text.) So we’re now just trying to sort out a last minute replacement with quick visa runs on Monday and vaccinations as required…..let’s hope they make the plane!

Netbooks have been brought and charging them solved, we hope! So, if you’re keen to keep up to date with the group and their adventures then please do tune into the West Sussex Inspire India Blog to find out how they’re getting on.

Positive Stories of Young People

It’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve just been to Worth Abbey to the West Sussex Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award presentation. Even though it’s Sunday afternoon, Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Wimbledon mens tennis final 61 young people, carers and parents took part in the celebrations. So many times young people are maligned in the media for their anti social behaviour, their lack of interest in anything other than computers & TV, that they are no hopers, taking everything and giving nothing. These presentations however give a timely and much needed counter view of young people, congratulating instead a wide range of young people who have shown motivation,  commitment and dedication over a long period of time.

Today we heard from the group who completed their expedition in canoe on the River Wye, and learnt in practice what it means to paddle on a tidal river. (With the water flowing against you for half the time it’s not as simple as floating down the river!) There was a young man who had taken part in a British Schools Exploration Society expedition to the Yukon where he completed both his residential section and his expedition and another who built a kit car for his skills section and credits this with his interest in civil engineering. All of them have completed at least 12 months volunteering supporting their local communities, the environment and others. So here’s to their acheivements, let’s celebrate and share in their enjoyment (and see how many column inches these positive stories earn!!)

Homophobic Bullying

Get Over ItI was in London yesterday at the Stonewall Education for All conference. I hadn’t realised that it’s the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots from which the organisation takes it’s name. Stonewall was founded in 1989 by a small group of women and men who had been active in the struggle against  Section 28 of the Local Government Act. For those that don’t know, Section 28 was legislation designed to prevent the so-called ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools. Ultimately, as well as stigmatising gay people it galvanised the gay community and brought about an organisation to lobby and campaign on equality issues for gay people.

As Sir Ian McKellen says “The legal situation is better now but there is still a hangover from Section 28 in schools. Gay issues are not discussed. Gay kids and teachers feel isolated. That’s why I go to schools — faith, comprehensive and private — to talk. And think about it, more and more of the parents who are sending their children to schools are gay themselves. They are not “pretend” families, as Section 28 called them.” From The Times June 23, 2009

The conference built upon the shocking facts about homophobic bullying presented in the School Report. There are some interesting facts in the Teachers report. What I found interesting regarding the facts about who experiences homophobic bullying outlined below is how much gender stereotyping plays such a large part in the bullying that goes on. Whilst those young people who are openly lesbian, gay or bisexual are being bullied boys, in particular, who aren’t conforming to their gender stereotype are bullied more. I am keen to ensure that we tackle homophobic bullying in our youth centres as part of the LGBT Strategy we are developing and will make sure that we pick up on this when we finalise the draft. I am also interested in these statistics as they appear to point to the need for more work on gender. It made me reflect once more on some of the sessions we run at youth centres which have the potential to conform to these stereotypes (the all womens dance groups, the young mens football sessions, the ‘beauty’ sessions) and how we need to ensure that colleagues are clear as to why they are running single gender sessions. An unexpected outcome from today is that I am now reflecting on what further training and support we may need to give in order to ensure that we are not perpetuating gender stereotypes in our work, how about you?

From the Teachers Report, Stonewall

From the Teachers Report, Stonewall

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