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Youth work is an important part of the education system – O’Dowd

28 June, 2011 - by John O'Dowd

Education Minister, John O’Dowd, has spoken of the important role youth work plays in the education system. He was speaking after presenting certificates at the Youth Link Annual Presentation of Certificates Ceremony.

Speaking, following the event in W5 at the Odyssey, the Minister said: “The young people here that have chosen to participate in the Youth Link training programmes have given themselves a real competitive advantage for the future. They have gained valuable experience and accreditation that will enhance their employability in whatever career they choose to pursue.

“In participating in these life enriching programmes they have expanded their skills, demonstrated active citizenship and formed friendships. We can learn so much from each other if we can learn to celebrate our own identities, welcome diversity and work together in a mature and considerate way as part of a just and democratic society.”

Youth Link was established in 1991 by the four main churches – Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist. Its main function is to provide training programmes for youth leaders and young people, mainly in faith-based settings.

The Minister continued: “It is important that young people who are marginalised or disadvantaged are given access and support to enable them to overcome barriers. Some become disengaged with formal schooling for a variety of reasons and often youth work is the ideal environment to help them re-engage, gain confidence and succeed in achieving their goals.

“By becoming involved in youth work delivery, each will be in a position to inspire their peers and, in many cases, change their lives for the better. Too often we hear negative stories about young people; however you are all great models. Through your enthusiasm and commitment you can help others realise that it is an exciting and rewarding challenge to work with young people.

“It can widen your social circle, increase your sense of well being and improve your long-term employment and training prospects. I hope that you give some thought to how to utilise your experience in the future in new and exciting ways.”

The Minister concluded: “I would like to thank the Youth Link Council, Youth Link staff and all their volunteers for organising, training and encouraging young people to participate in training. I would especially like to congratulate those young people who have received their certificates and wish them every success in the future.”

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