'Teens need volunteers to provide activities and support more than they need nice facilities'

The lack of facilities in Meath for teenagers has been the cause of a major outcry across the county in recent weeks, following controversy over adolescents causing a nuisance at the new playground in Kells.
Parents and teenagers have been united in their complaints about the lack of facilities for teenagers, who have little to do in towns, villages and rural communities around the county,

However, Breda O’Rourke of Foróige (pictured below), an organisation that is doing Trojan work to provide activities and facilities for young people says what is needed more than anything is volunteers.
“I’d rather have six good volunteers that a whole lot of facilities and just one volunteer,” the Regional Youth Officer, for Louth and Meath said.

Foróige has youth clubs in ten communities across Meath with a number of different clubs in some areas.
“If there is nothing to do in your area, what is really needed is volunteer adults to run a youth club,” she explains.
“It is true that there isn’t a lot for teenagers to do in various places around the county, but it is not all about fancy facilities. What is needed is volunteers and if you don’t have them, you cannot have youth groups,” she points out.

“Teenagers get a raw deal. If one or two get into trouble, it gives all youngsters a bad name, but we see how wonderful they are. Teenagers do amazing things.
“The Kells group cleaned up a derelict house with Kells Local Heroes, the Navan group raised funds for the Last Hope Animal Charity - young people around the county are doing wonderful things,” she said.
“Another problem facing Foróige Youth Clubs is the fact they run on very little money and in some of the bigger towns find it hard to get a premises to operate from.”

There are three Foróige groups in Slane and clubs in Dunshaughlin, Ratoath, Navan, Duleek, Kells, Ardcath, Syddan, two in Oldcastle and a new Youth Cafe will open shortly in Ashbourne.
There is already a very successful youth cafe in Slane.
Caoimhe Heeney (pictured below) is an impressive young woman who has been a member of the

Duleek Foróige club for the past six year and the 17- year old student is also a member of the organisation’s national executive.
She recalls how she first got involved. “There was a group of us with nothing to do and one evening we were walking around the village and saw a group of young people, wondered where they were going and followed them.” She has been involved ever since.

The Duleek club has around 25 members between the ages of 12 and 18, with the majority being under 15.
“We have organised things like trips to Carlingford, Funtasia and bowling, but we also organise fund raising events.
“We had our own stall at the Duleek Fair where we sold old fashioned sweets and had stocks and ‘hook a duck’.”
The Duleek club also held a ‘colour dash’ fund raiser with a breakfast for the local community beforehand and this project won them a silver medal in the National Citizenship Awards.

Caoimhe also won an individual silver citizenship award as she now also runs a boxing club in Duleek for girls aged eight to 12 years.
A student of Sacred Heart School in Drogheda, Caoimhe attends a Leadership Programme in Maynooth every summer for five days where they learn leadership skills, speaking in public and problem solving skills as well as hearing from inspirational speakers.


“There are a lot of team building activities and culture nights and on the last night there is a ball,” she says. Caoimhe said the programme teaches young people how to achieve their goals. “When I first went there years ago I decided I wanted to get on the National Executive and what I learned allowed me to work towards it. It took two years to achieve, but I did it,” she says. She agrees with Breda that Foróige needs more volunteers.
“As I’ve got older I realise just how much they do for us,” she said.
“The club wouldn’t exist without them.”

Darcy Herbert (pictured with Mum Clodagh below) is a member of the Navan Junior Foróige Club that meets once a week in Adare House and caters for girls aged 10 to 12.
She is proud of the groups achievement in raising funds for the Last Hope Animal Charity.

“We made butterflies with sweets in them and sold them to make money for the charity. Then we did a project board to show what we had done,” she explains.
Last Hope also visited the club and talked about the animals they help.
“We do arts and crafts at the club and have had a quiz, talent show, karoake and baking,” she said.

Darcy’s Mum, Clodagh is a volunteer leader. A mother of three she was looking for an opportunity to do something outside the home and was on the local volunteer website when she saw Foróige were looking for volunteers.
“I do a lot of arts and crafts myself so it was nice to share it with others.”
Clodagh says Foróige is about giving members responsibility. “In the junior groups, they have to clean and tidy up after meetings and the older groups organise outings or community projects,
We facilitate them, but they do it,” she said.

Clodagh would love to see a Foróige club for older teenagers in Navan, but they need more volunteers before they can set up a group. Breda points out that the clubs are starting back in September after the summer break and she made a call out for volunteers to get involved.
“The more volunteers we have, the more youngsters we can cater for,” she said.