Review: The Value Of Youth Work In Wales Conference
The Value Of Youth Work In Wales Conference held in the Millennium Stadium on Wednesday 7 March was something I had been looking forward to for a little while.
I was very excited to hear about the amazing things that are being done in communities across Wales and to hear new thoughts and ideas from people who work with young people on a daily basis.
Instead, what I saw was a group of people who seemed to be missing the point. People who knew the numbers, but seemed to be dead behind the eyes. People who, perhaps from maybe trying too hard to change the world while sticking to the many rules they are expected to follow, may have gotten lost inside their box.
Their most favourite part of the entire conference, their crowning achievement, was the one young person they had found to speak and introduce the other speakers to the audience. Just because you get a young person to stand up and speak at your conference does not mean you are successfully meeting the needs of young people, no matter their personal achievements.
It seemed to me like somebody was trying just a little too hard to portray the conference to be something it was not. It's nice to dream, I guess, but from a young person's point of view the whole thing was slightly unnerving and a little painful to watch...
In a conference about young people, you had to look surprisingly hard through the masses of the middle-aged and middle class. I believe I may have spotted a small group of young people during the lunch break, but I believed by that time that I may have just been hallucinating. To gather a group of youth workers and teachers together to talk about what is best for young people with little to no input from young people themselves just seems downright illogical and could potentially backfire on them all.
After all, isn't a lack of communication the cause of a lot of problems these days? People, in general, respond better to things that they actually understand, and if there was more transparency from workers involved with young people I believe that all problems that were highlighted would be resolved much more easily. I don't think anybody there really understood that concept, however.
The conference wasn't a total disaster, though. Amongst the seemingly endless flow of speakers there was just one who did not stand in front of the crowd and drone on about numbers, statistics and streams of jargon that even some professionals don't quite understand. This at least slightly restored my faith in the system, as I'm sure he can't be the only one of his kind out there.
Even though by the late afternoon we had gone through some typical conference-related emotions; temptation to skip sessions, annoyance at awkward people, longing for sleep and the occasional burst of interest – I was a little bit sad about having to leave early. For the very first time I actually had a good question in mind for the Q&A session. Although, I'm not sure a shy young girl like myself would have been able to get a word in edgeways anyway...
And if I had, I'm sure the room would have been so stunned at the fact that a child had been heard, and not just seen, that it would have been a little embarrassing for everybody.
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