Self image was the big issue at this year’s Reference Panel Conference and Regional Conferences. Last year’s Reference Panel, in response to the issue of bullying and negative social pressures focused on creating positive environments for young people. This year’s Reference Panel focused on the other side of the coin – young people’s perception of themselves – how they can develop inner strength, resilience and a positive view of themselves, particularly in the face of adversity. As it is impossible to eliminate all negative pressures, it is essential for young people to develop these personal qualities if they are to grow to their full potential. As the proverb goes, “It is better to wear a good pair of shoes than to try to carpet the whole world”.
A sense of their uniqueness and the freedom to be their true selves was considered extremely important by the Reference Panel. They felt that despite the social pressures it was well worth the effort to achieve it. It was essential learning for young people in Foróige.
Their conference theme was “Positive Self Image”. By this they meant being happy in yourself and comfortable in your own skin; finding your own path in life, accepting your limitations while focusing on your strengths and not letting negative pressures get you down.
They believed that Foróige can make a great contribution to helping young people to develop these essential attributes. Foróige helps young people to believe in themselves; discover what they love to do; think independently; build good social connections where they are affirmed and develop a sense of their uniqueness.
The Reference Panel put forward many practical ideas as to how Foróige can do this better. First, they emphasised clubs/groups having a wide variety of activities and roles so that young people can discover their individual interests, strengths and talents. They also suggest special activities that focus on developing your sense of uniqueness and enhancing self image. These can be easily done in a club/group and are outlined in the Reference Panel report.
TAB (tea and biscuits) time also featured strongly. The Reference Panel want more of it. TAB time, for those who don’t know is where young people and adults talk together in a safe setting where each person’s individuality is respected and encouraged. No matter what the Reference Panel have discussed over the years TAB time always comes to the fore!
The Reference Panel report on this Conference is rich in insights and practical activities. Combined with last year’s report on positive peer influence it outlines a powerful process that not only combats bullying and negative peer pressure but empowers young people to achieve their best potential and well being. Download the report here.