STEP-UP is designed to engage with young people who have identified barriers using a variety of mechanisms. We have found it beneficial for that initial phase to be based upon an identified key interest among the target group. On this basis STEP-UP has been using sport as a platform to develop employability skills among a large group of BME young people.
Through football we teach everyday skills and create opportunities to widen the horizons of young people. Through these programmes they have:
- Developed teamwork skills
- Prepare session plans
- Created new games and training exercises
- Supervised children and young people
- Gained Volunteer Experience
- Achieved Coaching Qualifications
- Visited University Campuses
- Studied Career Options in Sports
- Had one to one career and educational mentoring
To date over 35 young people have completed the STEP-UP Sports programme during year one.
Empower Youth Forum
At Oasis we value the input of young people into the day to day running of our youth centre and are especially keen to hear their voices on issues that affect their lives.
Our Youth Forum is a key element of our STEP-UP Programme and as a group they:
- Provide input, feedback and ideas for projects within our centre
- Act as ambassadors and befrienders for our club
- Access training to develop their skill leadership skills
- Speak at public events on issues effecting Ethnic Young People
- Organise and deliver projects for other young people
We love to see young people progress at Oasis and we see the Youth Forum as an excellent opportunity for our club.
The Oasis STEP-UP Programme is designed to enhance the educational and employment potential of young people, therefore we recognise that partnership work with Schools is essential in order for us to achieve our outcomes.
Oasis currently delivers variety of programmes in several post primary educational settings working with young people who have identified additional barriers to progression.
Programme examples include:
- English as an additional language
- Living and learning in an Inclusive Society
- Learning to live in a divided society
- Leadership skills through Media, Art and Sports Programmes
At Oasis we want every young person to have the opportunity to reach and fulfill their potential, regardless of their ethnicity or any other barrier that might exist.
We believe that the experience of Oasis in supporting BME Youth along with the Educational expertise of our local schools can be a successful partnership in building a brighter future for our members.
Oasis uses many different tools in the personal development of young people. Media has become a key aspect of our work as we have identified a diverse range of skills that can be improved through this. Working in partnership with a local media company young people are involved in every aspect of the programme.
Through the Film Making projects participants have:
- Developed forward planning and teamwork skills
- Worked within a job description
- Working to timelines.
- Gained technical skills by using cameras and editing equipment
- Been trained in public speaking and acting
- Identified Pressing Community issues
- Created a multiplying effect of core message by distribution of Film
You can see some examples of the work that has been completed on our video gallery.
Some of the most significant progress that we see in the development of young people happens during residential programmes. In most cases these are attached to one of the other programmes that we are delivering.
They serve as an incentive for maximum participation but primarily it is seen as a time for young people to:
- Build positive relationships with their peers
- Create a neutral environment where youth are more comfortable dealing with sensitive issues
- Provide practical skills and training ie Outdoor Activities, Team Building etc.
- Attend venues far from home for study visits
- Be rewarded for attendance and progressions
Oasis delivers residential in conjunction with other Youth Providers, Schools and Businesses ranging from Study Visits to Dublin, Belfast & London, to team building weekends in Co. Down.
Through these positive experiences we have seen significant progress in the skills development of our participants.
Oasis delivers its largest ever programme.
Bravery, Honour & Justice were the central themes of this year’s Oasis Summer Scheme which took place at St. John the Baptist Primary School in Portadown. These themes were woven into the fabric of the week’s activities and gave the children an opportunity to explore how they could embed these virtues, in practical ways, into their lives.
Medieval Madness was a 5-day scheme that ran from 24th – 28th July and catered for 340 children aged 5-11 years of age. The scheme was inclusive of children representative of all the primary schools in Portadown and Central Craigavon and included children for 14 different communities (60% drawn from ethnic minority groups and 40% from the indigenous communities). The scheme was also attended by 20 Syrian children who have arrived as refugees in the Craigavon area over the past year.
The scheme was delivered by the staff of Oasis Youth, along with 120 volunteers, the majority of whom were young people from the club. Senior volunteers were mostly parents of the children or adults who wanted to ‘lend a hand’.
In essence, the Summer Scheme had two objectives:
– Firstly, allow children to interact and make new cross-community/cross-cultural friends with others of their same age in a fun environment.
There were lots of activities for the children to get involved in, including: arts & crafts, sports, games, cookery, dance, drumming, archery all led by either qualified and highly motivated staff or increasingly by our volunteer team. The children worked in small, culturally diverse groups and gained experience in collective work designing and using their creative sides to the full. ‘Awesome’, was the most popular word that children used repeatedly to describe the week.
– Secondly, to develop the potential of junior helpers and young volunteers to work in an intercultural environment and develop leadership skills.
The cultural and linguistic knowledge that volunteers brought to the Medieval Madness was inspiring and their participation energized the children to participate in a multiplicity of activities with confidence.
Speaking about her volunteering Anastazja from Poland said, ‘This opportunity has increased my self-confidence, such an amazing place with so many opportunities!
Michael Jonak, another volunteer said, “I have been volunteering with Oasis for 5 years and projects like the summer scheme have given me great satisfaction in helping others while developing my personality and making me the person that I am today.’
Speaking about the input of volunteers, Daniela, one of the parents said, ‘Your volunteers are beyond superb, their positive energy was infectious’.
Midweek, a fleet of 7 buses ferried the entire group of 450 vibrant children and volunteers to Dundonald where they enjoyed 10-pin bowling and had the time of their lives at the Indiana Land indoor soft play area.
The finale of the scheme took place on Friday when the school site was converted into a giant action-packed funfair in which children and volunteers enjoyed water zorbing, bouncing and sliding down giant inflatables all topped of with a barbeque and ice cream
Derek Baker, the Permanent Secretary for Education visited the project and commended the high quality, good relations elements. 12 youth workers from Germany, who were on a good practice visit to Northern Ireland, were also hosted for one day and became embedded within the activities.
The feedback from parents during the week was impressive. One parent summed it up this way, ‘ Wow!! Our first Oasis summer camp experience just happened! Awesome just about starts to cover it. Thanks guys for all your hard work. An amazing team and a monster effort but our kids gave it “a million out of ten”. So we’re well and truly hooked! Can’t wait for the next one!! ‘
Ciara McCourt, one of the volunteer parents reported, ‘It was such fab week all round, I had the best time volunteering, meeting all the kids, sharing the experiences & making a lot of new friends along the way. Such a fantastic summer scheme, my 2 kids loved every minute. Can’t wait until next year guys.’
Andrew McCreery, Youth Coordinator, who managed the scheme with his staff team said,‘Our summer scheme is the highlight of our year of activities and it always gives us so much satisfaction to see the children, from so many different religious, political and cultural backgrounds, work and play together in a positive manner. The input of our volunteers who spent months preparing for Medieval Madness and injected so much enthusiasm into the week are an inspiration to us.
We are indebted to our funders for placing their confidence in our service. We especially thank BBC Children in Need, NI Housing Executive (Community Cohesion), Education Authority, Big Lottery, Southern HSC Trust, Rank Foundation, Network Personnel – we would like to thank The Northern Ireland Executive Social Investment Fund (SIF) Southern Zone ‘Work It’ training and employment programme who helped part fund our event, and finally Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council Good Relations Department for their valuable contribution in making Medieval Madness a reality this year.
The Housing Executive’s Gerard Donnelly said: “This was an extremely positive cross-community event which promoted inclusivity and interaction for young people in a safe environment.
This was an opportunity for young people to develop their leadership skills as well as gaining a better understanding of different cultures. The children gained new skills throughout the 5 day scheme, which are now embedded into their lives.
The overall positive outcome from the Medieval Madness will hopefully encourage more young people to get involved, which ultimately will help improve community cohesion between children from different communities.”