The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD visited the Gateway Youth Project in Athlone on Monday.
She saw the range of work done by the project: the Be Healthy Be Happy Programme carried out through art; she got a taste of the music development work done by the young people in conjunction with Music Generation; the Leadership for Life programme facilitated in the Athlone Community College; and talked to the young people who participated in the Leadership for Life programme carried out with the army earlier in the summer.
The Minister spent a long time visiting the project and talked to the Gatewaty Youth Committee which feeds into the work of the project, Athlone Spectrum – their LGBTI support group; students from the Athlone Community Training Centre who participated in the REAL U programme and the community inclusion programme – a collaboration between Foróige, St Hilda’s and local transition year students in the area; and the volunteers from the Foróige social club ran on Saturdays and Lego club.
She also met with Rebecca Goddard, a Little in the BBBS programme who is also a finalist in the Foróige Aldi National Junior Baking Competition. Rebecca baked a lemon drizzle cake for the occasion, which the Minister greatly enjoyed.
Speaking at the event Minister Zappone said she was “most impressed by the creativity, the commitment, and how articulate and well-spoken the young people are … I feel very inspired by what you’re doing … from all the different projects, the music, the video, the karate, the community radio and other activities and initiatives, I shall remember that when I go back to my big office in Dublin and take a lot of inspiration from who you are and what you’ve done”.
The Gateway Youth Project is a collaboration between the Foróige and Athlone Community Taskforce. It is funded by the ETB and Tusla.