Nathan (16) learns to surf through his involvement in the Foróige Bundoran Neighbourhood Youth Project

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Foróige January 30, 2015

Foróige is about empowering young people and enriching communities.  This is particularly true for 16 year old Nathan Cassidy from Kinlough in Co. Donegal. Nathan attends the Foróige Bundoran Neighbourhood Youth Project and joined when he was 10. He joined the project to meet new friends and to learn some new skills in a fun, positive environment. He recalls that he was a shy young lad who found it difficult to join new groups with new people. Nathan says, “I remember being shy and not knowing what to expect when I started Foróige. It was a great way to meet new people and make new friends in my community. I have gotten so much from Foróige. I started surfing with the Foróige Surf group and through this I was able to go surfing every week free with the group and we had the best fun. Not only did I meet new friends but I met new volunteers in Bundoran Turf n' Surf Lodge who gave up their time every week to go surfing with us teaching us new skills every week. I really look up to the volunteers as I can now see just how much time they put in to the group every week helping us. I am at the stage now where I can compete if I wish to do so in the surfing competitions and gain experience at competing in something I love doing."

"Killian O’Kelly from Turf n' Surf (Bundoran) and Foróige Volunteer has been a huge role model for me in my surfing and in other areas of my life. Killian would allow me and my friends to borrow wetsuits and surf boards which would normally cost too much for us to pay. I learned so much from the volunteers there who taught me not only how to surf but life learning skills as in how to communicate better, develop confidence, respect others, listening to eachother and overall team work skills. This led to other doors being open for me as I plucked up the courage to ask Killian for my first part time job in Turf n Surf. I was so nervous and this was a big thing for me to do on my own initiative and I was so happy he said yes. To this day I work in the Surf School during my school holidays and at weekends. I absolutely love it there and I have become so much more confident and my overall communication has improved so much. I am still learning from the staff there all the time but I can see just how far I have come and what it has offered me in terms of my own development to which I am so grateful to Foróige."

Nathan’s mum Lorraine says, “Through Foróige, Nathan has met a group of new friends, got a part time job and developed a new hobby that he loves in the outdoors. He has benefited so much from his involvement and I would advise all parents to encourage their kids to join Foróige and not to be afraid to try new things. The support the young people receive is just fantastic."

Caroline Cooke, Foróige Project Worker says, “The change in Nathan is just amazing. It is obvious he has learned so much and developed over the years. He has met new friends, perfected a skill that started off as a new hobby, gotten a new part time job and overall built connections with staff, volunteers and young people in the community. This is what Foróige is all about, new opportunities. It is through the fantastic support from the Foróige volunteers in Killian and the lads that Nathan has become so involved in the world of surfing. I am so delighted. This is such a great example of how working together and offering the simple things in life like time and support is what really matters to us all.

Killian O ‘Kelly says, “It is just great fun being a volunteer with Foróige. It is so great to see young people like Nathan develop through a particular hobby/sport. He started the surfing the same as all the other lads with not much focus but as time went on you could see he was more and more focused on catching waves and improving. In the last 12 months he has surpassed all expectation and now is a regular feature on the advanced reefs around Bundoran.  We have encouraged him to challenge himself and brought him out on waves like the Peak and river mouth to afford him an opportunity to progress. This is what Foróige offers to all young people - opportunities to learn and develop."

Nathan says “Foróige is just great fun, you get to meet with your friends and learn new exciting things to do. Surfing for me has opened up so many new opportunities and I am so thankful."

If you would like to get involved, contact Caroline Cooke, Bundoran Foroige Neighbourhood Youth Project/ caroline.cooke@foroige.ie .