My Choice – Reaching out to young people at risk
My Choice is a programme designed to make a positive impact upon the lives of young people who often find themselves at the edges of our community and at risk of being drawn into anti-social / criminal activity. It challenges young people to look at their actions and to take responsibility for the decisions they make in their lives. It has now been running since the summer of 2012 when serious rioting saw many young people in confrontation with police and at risk of being trapped within the criminal justice system.
Since that time, an outreach programme has been developed to provide an intervention for young people and their families who are affected by, or vulnerable to, involvement in anti-social activity and aims to equip young people with the skills and tools that would enable them to make a positive contribution to the life of their community. The programme also creates a positive pathway for social and educational achievement while developing educational attainment and providing a positive pluralist agenda within peers and families.
Each year’s project aims to consolidate the work of previous years through the integration of past participants into the delivery of the current programme as facilitators and as peer mentors.
A partnership has developed between the Passionist Peace and Reconciliation Office; Seedlings and RCity Cic that provides a comprehensive programme including the Leadership for Life programme (accredited by Foroige), a service programme in the grounds of Tobar Mhuire Retreat and Conference centre; therapeutic intervention, and a final international service programme in the township of Bontheuwel, Cape Town where they witness first-hand the consequences of gang violence on a township and spend time delivering a programme to young prisoners in the Juvenile Detention Centre.
The success of the programme is shown in the large number of participants who go on to participate in the wider range of programmes offered by RCity and by the parish youth centre.