Young people from across counties Tyrone and Fermanagh celebrated gaining a range of qualifications, new friends and a new direction in life through an innovative and inclusive learning programme launched by South West College (SWC) in September 2014.
The Youth programme aims to boost the jobs prospects and confidence of local 16-24 year olds who are not in education, employment or training through a mentor-led approach.
The teams of young people and their mentors from Cookstown, Dungannon, Enniskillen, Omagh and Strabane gathered at SWC Omagh campus to showcase the fruits of their work in a Dragon’s Den inspired event. A number of participants also shared their experiences of the programme and delivered a round-up of the raft of activities and excursions completed throughout the programme, before enjoying a phenomenal display of talent and energy from Belfast-based diversity in education specialist, Beyond Skin.
Jacqueline McDowell, programme development officer at SWC said:
“Investing in our youth is important and it’s rewarding to see so many young people who had previously been disengaged from education or employment, become involved in the programme and subsequently become more active individuals by engaging in the wider community and making a real contribution to society.
“The Youth Programme has provided these young people with the opportunity to build a more positive future by embarking on an exciting learning journey, with almost 60% of participants progressing to full-time education or training at South West College.”
Centred around three key themes of good relations, citizenship and employability, the Youth Programme encourages young participants to sample a wave of activities and roles including volunteering, cultural diversity and work-based learning.
As part of a social impact project, the teams also presented cheques from their fundraising efforts to a number of local charities: Parkinsons UK, £225.00 and Aware Defeat Depression, £125.04 (Omagh and Strabane team); Breakthru, £672.58 (Dungannon team); Macmillan Cancer Support, £478.59 (Enniskillen team); Cookstown Community Cancer Charity, £700.40 (Cookstown team).