READ LEONIE'S JOURNEY
My journey through youth work started many years ago when I attended an after-school club in the Raploch Community Centre called RASCALS. From that day on I’ve attended every group I possibly could, from after school to basketball to girls’ group. I embraced opportunities to participate in experiences I never would have otherwise, such as break dancing and graffiti art! I have learned valuable life skills such as how to budget, make a restaurant reservation as well as making new memories and having fun, including going out for dinner with the girls group. The relationships I built with the youth workers were key, and having a safe space to meet up with friends, talk about important issues facing me as a teenager with non-judgmental, supportive adults built my confidence and made me the person I am today.
As I got older, I began to volunteer at Twilight basketball and Create events. This enabled me to continue attending youth groups whilst developing my leadership skills and receive support from the youth workers to create a CV and complete my application for university. I have now worked within the youth team for eight years, in a vast array of groups throughout Stirling alongside a range of partners and I have enjoyed every minute. My roles within the youth team have ranged from supporting young people to participate in basketball tournaments as far away as Aberdeen, to providing specific medical support for a young person to allow them to fully participate in residential summer trips, to having a chat over toast and tea, the experiences have been rich and varied. I have also spoke to a board of councilors within the council chambers to inform them of the significant role the youth team had in supporting my personal development, providing me with career advice and opportunities to develop my knowledge and skills and why it is imperative that youth workers are there to support and advocate for the young people of Stirling in the future.
I was inspired by my experience of youth work to embrace this role and provide the young people within my community with opportunities to grow and develop with the support of a youth worker who believes in them and wants them to reach their full potential. Every day in youth work presents a different challenge and I am constantly learning from my colleagues and the young people that I support. The young people motivate me to push myself outside my comfort zone and try new things alongside them and to learn together while having a laugh. My proudest achievement to date is being nominated for the Scottish Sports Futures ambassador of the year award described as, “…someone who puts young people at the heart of everything they do…”.