#GAAyouth is a Programme for Youth Consultation within the GAA led by the Association’s National Youth Committee.
The objectives of #GAAyouth are:
- To seek the views of young people within the GAA on the issues that matter to them;
- To explore existing mechanisms for young people to voice their opinions;
- To make recommendations on how suitable mechanisms can be developed going forward.
As part of the Programme the GAA has formed a partnership with the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA), who are the national experts in making sure that children and young people are respected and have a say in decisions about the things they do in their daily lives.
In 2014 a number of events were held including a #GAAyouth Consultation Day in June 2014 and a #GAAyouth Workshop in November 2014 – these events were attended by over 130 Youth Ambassadors, between the ages of 15 and 19 (see report from the Consultation Day available to download here).
Four Youth Ambassadors were selected to present on the outcomes of the events at GAA Congress 2015 which was held in Cavan on the 27th and 28th February 2015.
Cathal French (Youth Ambassador, Wexford) introduced the presentation and explained about the events that took place in 2014 as well as the partnership with the DCYA. Anne O’Donnell (Head of the Citizen Participation Unit, DCYA) explained how the GAA is leading the way in terms of involving young people in decision making. Pádraig Ó’Dubhghaill (Youth Ambassador, Wicklow) reported on the first part of the #GAAyouth Consultation Day in June 2014. He talked about a number of key issues including:
- What does ‘having our voices heard’ mean to young people in the GAA?
- What stops young people from ‘having our voices heard’ in the GAA?
- What helps young people to ‘have our voices heard’ in the GAA?
Michael Malone (Youth Ambassador, Kildare) presented on the second part of the #GAAyouth Consultation Day. He noted that, on the day, the young people had identified 9 key themes and had discussed these themes before making recommendations on each of these themes at Club, County and National level. Michael then talked about the three key recommendations made at the #GAAyouth Consultation Day which were:
- @Club level: All women and men’s Championship Finals should be played in the main county ground
- @County level: To have a youth representative at county board level
- @National level: That everyone is under the same umbrella with equal representation of ladies and other sports (Handball/Rounders) on the national committee
Lauren Guilfoyle (Youth Ambassador, Clare) gave an account of the #GAAyouth Workshop that took place in November 2014. She explained that the main purpose of the workshop was to get more detailed feedback and discussion on the topics raised at the initial Consultation Day and to look at models of youth engagement that are already in place including:
- Youth Forum in Newport GAA Club, Tipperary
- Forbairt Youth Coaching Programme in Ballyboden St. Enda’s GAA Club, Dublin
- Comhairle na nÓg, Nationwide
Cathal French concluded the presentation and explained the importance of growing #GAAyouth into the future – Mól an Óige agus Tiocfaidh sí. The delegates at Congress gave the Youth Ambassadors a standing ovation and were really enthusiastic about the thoughts and ideas presented (presentation available to download here).
If you want to get involved and have your say as a young person in the GAA please contact Caoimhe – firstname.lastname@example.org or 01 865 8622. All ideas, thoughts and feedback is welcome!
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