Looking back that fourteen year old doesn’t seem like me, so much has changed in my life and I find it hard to believe that the decision I took eleven years ago- to stay with a youth club, could have played such a major role in forming who I am today.
The leaders in Gateway became role models and mentors to me, encouraging me to try the unknown and to be just a little more daring than I naturally would have been. By doing this they increased my confidence and knowledge more than I will ever know.
My experience at Gateway has opened up many doors for me. Every job interview I have ever taken part in has raised my time at the club, always in a positive sense.
I was able to complete a youth work qualification that allows me to run any youth club in Northern Ireland (OCN lv2 & 3 in Youth Work and Programme Development) and while completing the course became involved in a project that saw me spend three weeks in Johannesburg learning how South African youth leaders work with young people. While there I also ended up on a local radio station talking about youth work and various aspects of Northern Ireland. It was a surreal experience to be talking about our small country to goodness knows how many people at the other end of a radio.
More recently I ended up on the BBC Community Bus website talking about my experiences within Gateway and how it has changed my life, prompting me to write this very post. It’s incredible how one thing can lead to another.
I wonder what opportunities this year will bring?