Laois youth shine at Foróige  Conference

Laois youth shine at Foróige Conference

60 members attend Foróige Regional Youth Conference held in Athy

Sixty young members aged 10 to 18 from 9 clubs across Laois and Kildare met in the Clanard Court Hotel in Athy to learn about Foróige, present on topics, discuss the pressing issues that affect them and to elect two members to the national reference panel of Foróige.

Foróige is the leading national youth organisation in the country and each year clubs are encouraged to send a team of members to represent the views of their members so as to ensure the young people who are the reason the organisation exists are having their view and say at all levels of the organisation.

The event is member centric and is run by the members with the support of adult volunteers and Foróige staff. Céire and Lisa members of Milltown Foróige club gathered the nine clubs from the region after discussing their group contract of behaviour for the day had each member give a word or phrase that represented Foróige to them and as clubs to present to the other clubs a “Foróige Book” which showed highlights of their clubs and achievements in the recent years and months by the members.

Milltown Members Céire and Lisa had this to say: “It was a great experience and so happy we put ourselves forward to do it”

Tara the club chairperson in Cilldara Foróige Club presented the topic of Kahoot a tool which the members would be using to discuss their understanding of the topics through the use of an interactive online questionnaire and table quiz program. This presentation was key to the success of the rest of the day as it was the corner stone of how the success of the day could be gauged through the interaction and instant feedback it offered to the organisers.

Cilldara Member Ryan had this to say; “The experience has been really engaging and delighted that we have had a chance to show others the great things we get up to here in Kildare”

Derrinturn Member Nathan discussed his experience of the week long residential leadership conference which happens each year at NUIM. This is a members only event which has been shown to increase the confidence and ability of any member that has attended. Nathan is a veteran of the training and once completed will be applying to NUIM for a college certificate worth 5 college credits. Opportunities like this are key to the development of youth in preparing them for life outside of school.

The next generation learning to lead

The next generation learning to lead

Derrinturn Member Nathan had this to say; “The residential is a once in a lifetime opportunity and everyone should apply to get onto it you develop as a person and gain new friends from all over the world”

Derrinturn Juniors members who are 10-12 yrs. old had a PowerPoint presentation on what it means to be a junior club. The older members found it very interesting that the aspirations of these younger members are similar to their own and thanks to the presentation the junior clubs are finding the experience more inclusive and supportive.

Clubs in the build up to the conference are asked to submit topics for discussion and exploration that will guide the organisations and clubs support over the next 12 months. Members wished to discuss Peer Pressure and Bullying, People coming out, Options in Foróige that can support college applications and campaigning to have PE recognised as a leaving certificate subject. The members were mixed into small groups of eight and each group was tasked to define the issue as they see it, how it can be addressed locally within the club, regionally within Kildare and Laois and finally what they want or expect from Foróige on a national level. Each group selected what they wish to highlight the most in regards to their topics and presented to the rest of the delegates. The members set the agenda of the day and really engaged in their own topics.

The election of two delegates to the national reference panel is central to the day as only members who have been nominated by other members who are from affiliated clubs above the age of 14 are able to contend the election.  Nine young people stood for election to the panel and once the nominations were complete stood in front of their electorate and began their hustings. Some of the members it was there first time looking for votes and others showed to be masterful in their application to canvasing earlier in the day. The electorate and the membership were then invited to ask questions of the nominees, any of which could easily be expected at a leaders debate, “How will you ensure we are represented from Kildare and Laois?”, “What will be your focus if your elected?”, “How can I speak to you about our members’ needs?”  Again skilful and deliberate each candidate set out their plan and encouraged the delegates to vote for them. In the end Members’ Céire and Nathan have been elected in a close contention of votes to represent the views and aspirations of the members of nearly 20 clubs in Kildare and Laois. Both reference panel members can now contend election to National Council where they sit the equals of the volunteers elected to the council and finally from there onto the National Executive where 2 young people are elected as observers to the entire organisation at the highest level of decision making.

The youth of Laois and Kildare leading the way.

The youth of Laois and Kildare leading the way.

To close the event there was one final Club Kahoot general knowledge quiz a trophy sponsored by the members of Newbridge Foróige club was presented to the members of Clonaghadoo in Co. Laois who scored a very impressive 95% over 30 questions. Each club that was present was presented with certification and lanyards to keep.

Foróige Development Officer Alan Judge had this to say; “Such a great experience to see how young people aged 10 to 18 are more than capable of organising and running an event of this level of importance where they remained engaged and enthusiastic from start to finish over an eight hour day”.

Ratheniska member Cian had this to say; “The bar has been set high and we expect great things from our elected delegates and the event organisers next year”

For more information about Foróige check out  or if you wish to get involved with Foróige or create a club in your area contact the Laois and Kildare Development Officer Alan Judge.