Activities and Interests: Our pathway, stage 2

Activities and Interests: Our pathway, stage 2

By Tim Evans and Debbie Garden - 25 April 2019

In the first post on our youth work pathway, we explored the importance of connection: of bumping into each other, of getting to know people.  This post, the second in our series, considers the importance of doing things that we enjoy together and how that can help people flourish.

Doing together

I am writing this having just completed a 100-miles-in-a-day cycle challenge with 17,000 other participants.

In particular, I did it with 17 members of our Gear Up community cycling club.

Each Saturday, for a few years now, we’ve met at 8am and gone riding together.  We are of different ages and standards of cycling. Some of us joined through knowing other members, some came along initially as individuals.  Over time, we have got to know each other, not just as cyclists, but as people with life stories, experiences, joys and struggles.  We have inspired one another to take in challenges together, helping each other to take on things we didn't think we could.  Our small community cycling club illustrates the importance of shared activity in our lives: feeling part of something gives us confidence; the activity itself can help us discover things about ourselves - characteristics and abilities that we didn't know we had, interests and passions that we didn't know we cared about.


More than something to do

Some people see youth work as worthwhile because it "gives kids something to do" or "keeps them off the streets".  Yes, youth work is about enabling young people to find positive outlets for their time and energy, providing safe spaces for them to spend time with their friends, have some fun and laughter in their week, when so often that's hard to do in other contexts.

But youth work activities are about much more than something to do: they are about inspiring hope.

Young people who are living without hope for a positive future often feel powerless, trapped and afraid, which can lead to them making poor choices, driven by their desire to escape their circumstances.  Hope grows when young people are able to see possibilities and to believe that those possibilities could become realities.  We use fun, creative activities to help young people to discover their passions, abilities, identity and potential. 

A lack of relationships with supportive adults means that many young people’s lives remain limited: they do not have the encouragement or relational safety net they need to step out of their comfort zones and try new things.  Having spent stage 1 building relationships, we are able to give young people the confidence they need to explore the unknown.  Through regular youth club sessions complemented by trips and residentials, we provide opportunities for young people to experience new things, visit new places and discover skills and interests that they didn’t know they had. They begin to glimpse a life beyond their everyday experiences.  They start to believe that there might be a range of possibilities for their futures.  They begin to discover the unique contribution they have to offer the world.

This stage of our youth work pathway facilitates self-discovery and grows vision.

Huddersfield masks

Using activities and interests in practice

In Huddersfield, we run all kinds of different activities to connect with all kinds of different people - youth clubs, cooking clubs for kids and adults, boxing sessions, crafts activities, board games and lunch clubs.  Alongside the regular programme, we also run a summer community BBQ or picnic, see a Christmas pantomime, take day trips to the beach and go to watch Huddersfield Town play football.  We have fun and learn together as everyone tries out new skills, experiments with ingredients, gets creative with art projects and gets the chance to do something out of the ordinary from time to time.

For Mary*, coming along to the community BBQ and joining the adult cooking club was life-changing.  Developing practical cooking skills, getting out and about and making friends all helped Mary to discover what she was capable of, increase her faith in herself, reduce her depression and reach for a new future.  Watch her story here.

 Huddersfield cookingHuddersfield pantocropped-Huddersfield boxing

Over to you

Some questions for you to consider...

  • Who encouraged you to explore and experiment?  Who was there to celebrate when things went well and to help you pick up the pieces when you struggled or failed?  How might things have been different if you'd had more/less confidence to try things out?
  • Can you identify times when taking part in an activity helped you to acquire new skills?  To what extent did you expect that to happen when you first got involved?
  • Think of an experience you had, or a place you visited, that changed your perspective.  Who brought that about and why?  How might you be able to expand the horizons of someone else?
  • How might you stand with us to create opportunities for discovery and new horizons?  Will you givepray or volunteer?

We'd love to hear your reflections.  Tweet or Facebook us and let us know what you're thinking.

Don't miss the rest of the series!  You can read an introduction to our youth work pathway and our post about stage one, Connection now.  Sign up here to receive an email when the next one is published. 

 * Not her real name

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