Me and my Foróige, by Oisín Bowyer aged 13

Foróige-Notinuse's picture
Foróige-Notinuse August 29, 2013

Hi, my name is Oisín Bowyer. I'm thirteen years old and I'm a member of The Epicentre Foróige club in Carndonagh, Co. Donegal. I first got involved with Foróige a year ago when I was twelve and I can remember the day when a Regional Youth Officer and Club Leader came to my national school and made a presentation about Foróige as an organisation. From that day on I knew I wanted to get involved!On those cold September nights I'd go along to the club after school. It really helped me to relax, forget about school and life's worries. Foróige for me was my own little haven and still is to this day.

I was elected Treasurer of my club and that gave me a great sense of responsibility. My fellow committee members and I attended the North West Regional Conference. I went along not really knowing what to expect! That day we met other teens from Donegal, Sligo and Leitrim, we discussed issues affecting young people in Ireland today like bullying, peer pressure. It felt amazing knowing that my and everyone else's voice was being heard.

Later on that day I learnt about the Foróige Reference Panel. I then stood for election to the panel. I was successfully elected as the only representative in Donegal. It was exciting to say the least and I couldn’t wait to tell my parents when I got home. Then February came, my excuse to leave rural Donegal for the concrete jungle that is Dublin. I met fellow teens who were also elected to represent their regions nationally. That weekend we discussed bullying and peer pressure both positive and negative. One of the main roles as a reference panel is to make recommendations to the National Council of Foróige. We went bowling, chilled out, danced, sang, joked, even played in the snow. We met Sean Campbell, CEO of Foróige and made presentations of our action plans that we were going to roll out in our own clubs and communities back home. There wasn't a dry eye that morning as we all left to go our separate ways home!

We were very fortunate back home to have new leaders in our club and that really helped when it came to devising activities. We decided that the club needed a facelift and we the members wanted to put our own stamp on the clubroom. Someone came up with the bright idea to give the club a new name and identity and so ‘The Epicentre’ was born. We researched to find someone locally that could inspire us and bring our ideas to life. Kirstin Mc Laughlin who has many years experience in the facilitation of visual arts came to our aid. You are probably thinking hold on! What does ‘The Epicentre’ stand for? The EPI in Epicentre explores themes from the Foróige Charter Of Rights, E for Empowering Youth, P for Participation For All and I for Improve Our World and finally Centre being where it all happens! The workshop went on for a number of weeks and saw us through until the summer break. We all enjoyed it and were sad to see Kirstin go.
The club progressed but still I thought something was missing. How about a local campaign raising awareness of Foróige and our club? So many newspaper articles and parish bulletins later we started to get Foróige's message and philosophy across to the young people and the rest of the community as a whole.
I was also extremely lucky to attend Riverdance in the company of The First Lady Of The United States Of America Michelle Obama and her two daughters Sasha and Malia. That day is one day I will never forget, what an experience. Back home after all that excitement I thought about holding a special Open Day when the public could come to our club, watch some Foróige videos, see photographs from the various different activities and programmes that Foróige offer and give young people and potential new leaders the chance to join.

This event will be held on Tuesday the 10th of September at 7pm. If you're reading this and you're in the area why not pop in and have a look, we are situated in Millbrae, Carndonagh (next to The Colgan Hall) in Co. Donegal.