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Challengers Children & Young Person Engagement Project Update

Children and Young Person Engagement Project image

In the second of our Children and Young Person Engagement Project blogs, Amie Dredge, one of our Youth Workers, talks about how she got involved and why the project is so important.

I first learnt about the Challengers Child and Young Person Engagement Project through an advert on my university volunteering website. The Engagement Project is a combination of many of my keen interests: volunteering, research methods that are relevant to my Masters course, and Challengers, as I have worked as a Youth Worker for the last three years!

The project involves visiting different schemes and asking and gaining the children’s and young people’s views on what they like and dislike about their time at Challengers. This is particularly important because while parents have many opportunities to provide feedback, opportunities for the children and young people are slim and although the perspectives and experiences of caregivers are useful in research, they do not necessarily represent the views of the young people directly affected. This project aims to hear directly from those children and young people.

Historically however, any participant in child research whose communication is considered anything less than perfectly comprehensible has risked being marginalised. For example, disabled children who communicate little or not at all through speech (Komulainen, 2007). In order to combat this, the different ways of gaining the children’s and young people’s perspectives range from the use of simple questionnaires and PECs to iPads and traffic light games, allowing a large number of participants to represent their different views.

Children and Young Person Engagement Project image

This feedback is significant as it allows Challengers to plan and adapt days in accordance to what the children and young people find most enjoyable for them. Furthermore, as a volunteer and Challengers employee, it is highly satisfying hearing from different children and young people how much they enjoy Challengers, and what their favourite days are. It really highlights that Challengers are making a key difference in many lives.

On a personal level, the Engagement Project has improved my communication skills by learning new techniques to communicate with different young people and children. It has allowed me to visit different schemes and meet different children, young people and staff outside of my normal Saturday scheme. The project has given me an idea on different activities other children and young people enjoy in which I can use in practice. Most importantly through the different responses, I am able to see how much the children and young people enjoy Challengers which is a great motivator for when I arrive at work every Saturday.