THE Laois Comhairle na nÓg AGM reflected on the past year’s successes, as well as looking forward to see what can be done to impove the quality of life for teenagers and young people around Laois. Issues discussed at the AGM included ‘what facilities there are for teenagers in Laois’, as well as ‘teens in trouble’.
New Comhairle na nOg chairperson, Laoise Redmond is determined to get the word out about the wide range of facilites already in place in the county. “People don’t know that they’re there. Instead of focusing on what’s wrong, we should focus on what’s right. There are many good facilites for young people in Laois”.
Regarding teens in trouble, recommendations were made in relation to the Comhairle facilitating awareness talks in schools in respect of issues like substance abuse and the dangers of social networking, and helping to set up opportunities for young people to talk about what might be causing them to feel low.
Comhairle members mentioned that there may be a lack of accessible support services that they know of for young people, and maybe the Comhairle could help to highlight these.
Organiser Georgina Ireland said: “It was a surprise to see from a show of hands, that the majority of young people there on the day, would not talk to their parents if they had a problem, but maybe to their friends, our to a youth worker/counsellor”. These ideas were also discussed under the topic of whats available for teens in Laois, especially in relation to supports and recreational facilities.
“Interestingly, the idea of young people volunteering and/or fundraising in their local communities was raised a number of times and this will be something that the Comhairle will look into over the next year in relation to finding out how they can assist young people to make a difference in their own communities and in the county”, added Ms Ireland.
There was a call for more youth cafes, and while a youth café in every area may not be feasible, the suggestion was raised that transport between communities, so that young people might be able to attend youth cafes in other localities.
At the AGM Laoise gave her first speech to the delegation. She thanked outgoing chairperson Ger Quinn for his guidance throughout the past year and as well as all the previous Comhairle members for their work over the past few years. “Comhairle is helping Laois become a better place for teens and young people”, she said, noting that although the AGM was a good day out for the students, the planning, hard work and effort can really help Laois teenagers. Laoise who is also chairperson of the Youth Cafe, told the Leinster Express that she was delighted with being elected.
Laoise has been involved with Comhairle for the past three years and had a very busy summer along with other Comhairle members organising the hugely successful iMind conference. The conference was one of the highlights of the year for both Comhairle and Youth Work Ireland Laois.
Tiernan Williams from Colaiste Iosagain in Portarlington thanked everyone who had been involved with the conference. “We wanted to make it a different kind of conference, one you could take something away from”. He told the group about the facilitators and the concept behind the day. Bob Tysall from Clonaslee College who was also involved in organising the event said that he hoped it had made an impact on people. “It is about minding your own mental health”. The audience also saw an excellent video giving a flavour of what went on during the conference, and the message relayed was for people to connect with themselves and eachother. The conference was so successful that plans are already afoot to hold it again next year.
Outgoing chairperson Ger Quinn also spoke at the AGM and told the audience about the many experiences he had during the year, including Dáil na nÓg and the iMind conference. “There were fantastic events, class people and I loved every minute of the past year. I wish Laoise the best of luck for the year”.