Local girl Janet Gordon recently undertook National Citizen Services. Here she reports on her experiences exclusively to Lurgan Mail:
Local girl Janet Gordon recently undertook National Citizen Services. Here Janet reports on her experiences exclusively to Lurgan Mail:
“I completed the National Citizen Service (NCS) Summer Program in 2015. NCS for me was a symbolic experience, one that was packed with lots of opportunities from gaining new skills and developing new friendships to overcoming my fear of both heights and water.
“I heard about NCS through my school and had been told that it was a life changing opportunity.
“I only really agreed to get involved to prove that this program was just like any other youth scheme, as well as to have something to do over the summer months.
“The first meeting was quickly approaching and I was petrified, but little did I know that soon I’d be a part of a whole new family.
“NCS has provided me with the opportunity to develop my skills through both the residential and the social action stage.
“Both residentials were packed with many entertaining and challenging activities but these activities enabled my team to become closer and like a little family.
“My Social Action Project was my team’s chance, as young people within our diverse and divided society in Northern Ireland to unite and make a real difference within our community, raising awareness and money for mental health.
“My Social Action enabled me to put my skills which I had learnt on the residentials into practice.
Working towards a deadline to complete our Social Action Project before the graduation was a stressful process, challenging all my team to work under pressure, but it was worth it.
“From working in a heated environment, I was able to gain time management, organisational and interpersonal skills.
“Furtheremore NCS has branded me with sponsorship skills and a positive, motivational attitude which I have improved upon as a result of now being on the NCS Regional Youth Board and I aim to continue to improve upon all of these skills.
“The issue my team felt passionately about was the prevention of suicide and self harm. Therefore, my team decided to be unique and aim for an original Social Action Project, one that consisted of challenging ourselves to climb up Slieve Donard, the largest mountain in Northern Ireland to raise sponsors in aid of the local Non-Governmental Organisation, named PIPS, who provide free support and counselling services for members of the community.
“They also provide training for community groups on how to spot a vulnerable victim who is struggling with mental health problems that could result in suicide or self-harm.
“ We as a team completed a section of this training known as the “Safe Talk”. This talk enabled my team to have a deeper understanding of mental health and the actions to take if a friend or someone we know is experiencing mental health issues.
“As a young person, I state that mental health problems are a stigmatic topic within our community and I now have a passion to demolish that stigmatic barrier as a result of being a part of NCS.
“Mental illness is as serious as physical illness and we as a team wanted to highlight that the individuals suffering from mental illness should not be forgotten about.
“The climb for me was symbolic as I believe it reflected life. There will be many ups and there will be downs.
“There will be challenging, rocky areas that make you want to give up, but with self-determination and the right people around you, helping you, you can succeed at anything in life.
“This is only one valuable message NCS has taught me. Throughout the beginning of my NCS journey I had many highlights, but the one moment that shaped my entire experience was my graduation.
“The moment when my team stood united on the stage to receive our rewards, marked a symbolic experience for me. Our unity represented future generations within Northern Ireland.
“Within a country where war and difference has torn us apart, we as a team found it within our hearts, to accept each other, becoming a family and celebrating our achievements, not only as individuals but as a unit. This marked a new journey for me.
“When I signed up to NCS, I honestly didn’t believe it would be such a life-changing experience, and after facing many disruptions and difficulties in my life, my NCS journey highlighted and continues to highlight that there are positive things in life - and I now feel my dreams are within my reach.
“This could be you too.
“Furthermore at my graduation the speaker chose to play Avicii’s song ‘Wake me up’ which includes the line: “I can’t tell where the journey will end, but I know where it starts.” I began to realize this applies to my life in terms of NCS. I refused to let my journey end there in summer. That was only the beginning.
“NCS has provided me with many more opportunities, so I recently decided to apply for the NCS Regional Youth Board and was involved in organising the recent NCS Regional Social Action project at Aughnacloy House in Lurgan where a group of young people made a massive impact within the local community.
“We provided the opportunity for the residents to part take in a wide variety of activities like arts and crafts aswell as baking. The night was a success and proved to me as a young person, that age is only a number.
“This event helped me, alongside the many other young people involved, realise that both the older and younger generation share common interests and that we can learn many things from each other. In fact, one of the residents even taught me how to dance!
“The night was enjoyable for all involved and we plan to have future involvement with the local care home and we all were very thankful that Aughnachloy facilitated us.
“I am now a young individual who longs for new experiences and opportunities. NCS has highlighted that I have a passion and a hunger to make a massive impact within my localcommunity.
“I feel as a young person within a diverse society that there is a negative image reflected on the young people of today and I want to make that change, the change where young people can be recognised for their achievements and not their faults.
“Young people can create a positive impact within our society and I will continue to prove and be a part of that.
“If NCS has taught me one thing it would be to not give up. If you have a passion, a dream or a goal then you should fulfil it.
“Ellen Johnston Sirleaf once stated: ‘If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.’ Your dreams will scare you but that doesn’t mean they can’t be achieved! We are the young people of today and this is our future.”
Visit www.ncsyes.co.uk for more information.