I can’t believe it has been two years already; time has flown by ridiculously fast. Thinking back to my first forum (as it was known then) in January 2016, when I had finally thrown myself into the deep end and was getting an idea of what people wanted for the platform, I never imagined how far it would come.
Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to start a platform that genuinely impact the lives of young people not just for a season, but for years to come. Too often, initiatives start and then disappear into the ether – I did not want Young People Insight to be one of them.
This has required a great level of commitment and strength over the past two years, as it is easy to become inconsistent and not take a voluntary role seriously. However, I am deeply serious about YP Insight, which I hope shines through, and I determined to make a real difference in my community through this platform.
Nevertheless, there have been countless occasions when I have wanted to give up entirely. Some times it was due to getting caught up in the numbers game, believing that there was no point of carrying on if barely anyone was there. On other occasions, I questioned if I was making any difference at all. And then there were the times when life had gotten too much, as I battled with grief, believing in myself and being burnt out.
Through it all, I prayed though and was continuously reminded of why I was doing this in the first place. I wanted to reach out to young people, empower them and gave them a space to not only make their voices heard, but actually feel that they were being heard in a safe environment where they would be welcomed, loved and accepted.
From what others have told me, I have succeeded in creating this type of environment, which makes me feel touched and extremely happy. I always feel great inside when individuals feel comfortable enough to open up and share their personal stories – that is what YP Insight is all about.
For me, some of the most special moments at our events have been when people have opened up unexpectedly. One particular occasion was when Angela took to the stage at our Mental Health themed Poetic Insight to share her experience with mental health problems, which had the room entranced and members of the audience in tears. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that.
I guess that leads on to some of my favourite memories over the past two years. I always love having guest speakers at The Kickback, and I especially loved when Stephanie, Matthew, Frances, Kyle and Jason shared their dreams and inspirational stories so far when we focused on the topic of Dreams in May 2015. Everyone was incredibly engaged and each of their stories was inspiring – that event felt like a real turning point for me.
Stephen leading out on the Online Dating edition of The Kickback was also one of my favourites, as the conversation was so much fun and Stephen did a brilliant job on leading out on a session for the first time. I’m looking forward to seeing more of that this year.
One of my funniest memories was at our first games night in December 2016. We were playing charades and Darnell acted out one of the most intense, hilarious sequences I’d ever seen when he was given the song, Hit Me Baby One More Time. Words cannot describe it, you needed to have been there to see it.
Some of my most stand out YP Insight memories have come from the poetry nights. There was of course, Poetic Insight: Mental Health in May 2017, which resulted in a level of raw emotion in the room that I had never seen before. Celebrating our first birthday at Poetic Insight was a truly special occasion, with a full room of support and some ridiculously talented poets.
April’s Poetic Insight will forever be a stand out for me as well, because it was pure fire, which included Annotate’s poem about young people that perfectly sums up YP Insight and our first ever wheel up for first-time performer, Tania.
I’ve loved watching first-time performers take to the stage, sharing a bit of themselves with us and growing in confidence. One of my proudest moments last year was watching Jack, a first-time performer at Poetic Insight in January, as a feature at Well Versed Ink‘s poetry night. Occasions like that make YP Insight worth it.
It’s also been a joy to watch young people grow in confidence and feel able to make their voices heard, or lead out on events for the first time. It’s meant a lot to be able to watch friendships form and new connections develop. Most of all, I’ve cherished being a part of the journeys of these individuals and observing the great things the continue to do in their lives.
I’ve learnt and gained a lot over the past two years, and I’m continuing to learn more all the time. There is still a lot of work to do in order for me to take YP Insight to new heights and I intend to get even more happening this year – I wanted to have implemented workshops from last year, but unfortunately that did not happen.
One major factor is that I cannot do all of this all myself, so building the right team is going to be one of the priorities for 2018. If you’re interested in joining the team, get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to finish by saying a huge thank you to all of you who have supported and been involved in YP Insight over the past two years – none of this would be possible without you. I hope that this platform continues for many years to come and that it will empower a number of young leaders for our present and future.