Accessibility in Edenmore Youth Club
Who knows what can happen when young people believe in something and strive for it together? Friendship, persuasion and solidarity are all ingredients in plentiful supply among the members of St Monica’s Youth Club in Edenmore – a recipe for getting great things done, as John Daly reports.
In September 2010, St Monica’s Youth Club, Edenmore, opened its doors again, after the summer break for its 39th year. The Youth Centre is an old but fantastic building with lots of space and a huge array of activities and programmes running over its two floors. On this night some 40 young people piled through the door. For some reason almost all of them headed upstairs. The computer-room, arts and crafts room, TV room and kitchen are on the first floor and are great attractions to all young people. After a short time they realised that one of their pals, Josh, had been left on his own downstairs. Josh is a wheelchair user with one of the most modern wheelchairs you could imagine. It is battery operated, can swivel and elevate, which enables Josh to play snooker, pool, air-hockey and soccer, which he adores. Unfortunately the only thing Josh’s chair cannot do is climb stairs. It reflects how sensitive and aware young people are that leaving Josh on his own downstairs upset them so much. They wanted to share their activities with him and would never willingly leave him alone.
Young people take action A group decided to take action. Nicole, Aoife, Megan, Gemma and Chloe approached members of the committee and asked if the club could install a lift in the building. The committee explained the huge costs involved. But these girls did not just ask – they’d already consulted with their club mates and youth workers and had come prepared with fundraising proposals to make their lift idea a reality. They suggested discos, overnight stays in the club, sponsored walks and so many other ideas that the management committee saw how serious they were about their proposal and decided to work to make the lift a reality.
The youth centre had received development funding from CDYSB and the management committee sought permission from CDYSB to redeploy this funding to help pay for the lift. This got the go-ahead,plus the management committee agreed to use youth club savings and release the required amount to see the lift installed. Installation began in early summer2011 and was completed by July 2011. Fundraising to pay for the lift hascontinued, almost from the first moment it was suggested by the young people – and to date, approximately €6,000 has been raised.
We have lift-off!
One year on, in September 2011, came the official launch with Josh and his friends taking the inaugural journey in the lift they had asked for. For Josh to be able to decide for himself where he will go and what he will do, just as every other young person does in our centre is the outcome we all sought from this project. Josh – and Calvin from another club group who is also in a wheelchair are not the only people to benefit from this project. Another young person who is a wheelchair user has come to the club, precisely because he can now enjoy full access to all the facilities. Quite apart from the youth activities,our centre is used by an active retirement group, whose members make regular use of the lift. If you don’t ask This all happened quite fast for a project of its size and complexity, but it happened because young people asked. It happened because the old heads on the management committee felt how important it was. It happened because the management committee have such a strong focus on the needs of young people to be included and listened to and reacted to. Nicole, Aoife, Megan, Gemma and Chloe had the courage and confidence to ask for something huge for someone else and we all owe them our gratitude and congratulations for their success. It speaks volumes for the young people of today.
St Monica’s Youth Club & Project, Edenmore, Dublin 5. Tel: 01 8480829