I was a member of Foróige’s Youth Participation Advisory Committee for the last year, one of three lucky people elected at a Regional Seminar. 'YPAC' is a committee of young people from around Ireland, as well as Foróige staff, volunteers and Foróige Senior Management, who meet about four times during the year. We plan, advise and evaluate youth participation across Foróige.
We met with adults working in Foróige and they presented us with ideas and issues Foróige were discussing and we gave them our feedback. We were very much involved in making decisions and we always heard reports back about what had been discussed, what “HQ” thought of our ideas! People working in different sectors of Foróige, such as the Fundraising and Communications departments came and asked our opinions on various subjects.
Being on the committee really showed me how the decision-making process works in Foróige and what has to be done to make them a reality. I now feel as if I have a better understanding of what goes on and how everything works in Foróige, and the extent of young people's influence. Foróige actually listen to what young people want and will try to make it work.
I was part of debating many topics and one of the most memorable was Vote at 16. We discussed the topic thoroughly, looking at both sides of the argement. All of us, including the adults, took a vote about whether Foróige should take a yes or no stance on the subject. The majority of us voted yes.
Roisín, another YPAC member from Roscommon, and I drafted up a letter that was sent to the National Council supporting a Yes vote. We have since heard back that the National Council has agreed with us and Foróige is now supporting lowering the Voting age to 16.
My experience of YPAC is one that I will never forget, I met wonderful people who I am still in touch with and I also got to experience the inner-workings of Foróige, and influence them. I feel as if I have made a difference for now and the future of Foróige, not only that I know YPAC made a difference in myself. I am now more confident and more social than I was before. YPAC was an amazing opportunity that I would recommend to anyone.
-Lara McGrath, P.R.O, Foróige Balbriggan Youth Committee.