Empowerment Plus is currently working at Mellifont Abbey, Collon, Co. Louth, where the Cistercian Community have given us access to their vacant workshops to use as a venue to help children with particular social difficulties. Here we run the Plus Programme, an area based project which provides a multi skills training intervention to young people and families.
At our PLUS Programme we start young people off at a level which suits their pace and knowledge. We work on developing their skills both socially and academically. This is done through communication within group work and one to one guidance. Woodwork is the most popular activity on the PLUS Programme. On a woodwork project a young person starts off learning basic carpentry skills, i.e. hand-made joints which are found on household chairs and tables. After this they move on to larger projects, here they learn the designing and drawing of woodwork pieces, e.g. dog houses or picnic benches.
The PLUS Programme is located on a farm, this allows young people to gain experience working with animals. Children from cities particularly enjoy this. We also have a large assault course consisting of high ropewalks and log bridges. These were constructed with the help of young people on the PLUS Programme. Within the grounds of the centre we also have access to a tennis court and a maze.
These activities create a space where young people can be empowered to make and sustain changes in their lives. Each young person is supervised on a one- to- one basis by an empowerment worker. The activity projects carried out are designed in such a way that the young person’s maximum learning potential is achieved.
Throughout their time on the project, the young person is encouraged to sample different projects which are based on their performance. They are encouraged and supported to return to school, Youth Reach or to get an apprenticeship which can further their learning and skills.
Johnny Daly is our PLUS Programme Co-Ordinator. Johnny comes from a woodwork background, he is a Carpenter by trade but also specialises in wood turning and polishing. Johnny brings his knowledge of woodwork into play at the PLUS Programme. He is currently tutoring children there in woodwork Fetac level 3. Johnny has been a member of Scouting Ireland for eight years, here he has gained extensive experience in building assault courses, camping, orienteering and outdoor cook. On working with young people at risk Johnny states “It gives me great pride in my work to see young people reach goals which they thought where invisible”.