Young people want to give back to their communities too: So why don’t they?

Since ChangeX has been involved in the communities across the Burren, it has brought lots of people together through social initiatives. According to Brendan Dunford, 800 people have been directly in contact with ChangeX Burren in the last 3 years and 2,000 people have been positively effected. Those figures are impressive, but do young people take part in it as well?

I heard about ChangeX through my mum, who is helping to support ChangeX starters locally in the Burren. While helping out at the organisation’s head-office in Dublin for a week as part of my Transition Year, I realised that there is much more to ChangeX than what I had seen so far. To me, ChangeX was mainly there for older people who had time on their hands.

Taking a closer look now, I see ideas in ChangeX that are very relevant for someone like me. 121 Digital is one of them. This is a free programme in which volunteers teach local people a digital skill at each learner’s own pace. It was founded six years ago by Fintan Mulligan to help his community in Dublin. It was originally designed for all age groups but has recently been adopted as a secondary school programme.

What I love about the idea is that it turns things around. As young people we are heavily criticized by older generations for our ‘overuse’ of technology. With this programme we can use our knowledge to educate older people. 121 Digital gives young people the chance to engage with other members of their community that they may not be in touch with otherwise. So why aren’t many more young people, like myself, involved in ideas like this one?

Teens have so much to give back to their communities but are rarely given the opportunity.

We are often overlooked when it comes to volunteering as we spend much of our time in school. ChangeX could get more involved in schools across the Burren. For example, students could help set up 121 Digital in more locations. Based on its success in Gort Community School and the way it forges important relationships between generations, it’s a great initiative to be involved in.

Transition Year is the perfect time for community involvement

Although I thoroughly enjoyed my Transition Year I felt there were some things lacking in the programme.

It was a bit outdated and it missed the opportunity to get us involved in the community. We had a lot of spare time during the school day that we could have spent doing something more productive.

But, school didn’t inform us about ideas that would allow us to do that. These could be ideas like 121 Digital, that are particularly tailored for Transition Year students, but it could be nearly any other idea that I see on ChangeX: volunteering as a tutor at Fáilte Isteach, helping to set up a community or school garden with GIY or just getting a group of students together to organize a fundraising event to improve the school building.

I know that students in my school could definitely benefit from the responsibility and the skills involved in doing so. Also, when choosing a project you’re interested in, it’s fun and rewarding too!

So let me close this article and my week at ChangeX by asking a question: What could a ChangeX platform optimised for Transition Year Students look like?

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