‘Gener8’ United Youth Pilot (2015-2016)
The United Youth Pilot Project, Gener8, was a good relations programme that provided flexible, high-quality, young-person-centred opportunities for 18–24 year olds who are not in education, employment or training. It was a key commitment in the Northern Ireland Executive’s ‘Together: Building a United Community’ Strategy.
Gener8 offered 24 marginalised, unemployed 18-24 year olds, across cultures, from disadvantaged areas of Greater Belfast an opportunity to set their own agenda i.e. themes, content and solutions, in relation to their learning. Aligned to Hart’s Ladder of Participation, Gener8 provided a foundation development (adult-initiated, shared decisions with young people) including co-design planning, (young people lead and initiate action) in preparation for development and implementation of a youth-led programme (young people and adults share decision-making).
Programme establishment focused on group formation and one-to-one work where young people identified individual needs/hopes/expectations. With staff support and within a broad framework, during the Foundation Phase young people led the co-design of an integrated learning framework. During the Youth-Led phase participants led their own learning within:
(1) Personal and social education where they examine attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviour and explore new ways of thinking and engaging.
(2) Diversity education, participants developed a programme to support understanding of identity, impacts of prejudice, relationships with communities and the value of diversity, underpinned by educational visit to Auschwitz, Poland
(3) Self-selected delivery vehicles to raise awareness of citizenship/positive community participation.
(4) Participants decided how to enhance employability and select areas for masterclasses.
Throughout the programme, one-to-one mentoring took place, with external support as needed. Participants also enjoyed the opportunity to take part in residential trips and informal activities.