Clondalkin Round Towers producing young leaders through DEYLI
By John Harrington
If someone in Round Towers, Clondalkin approaches club secretary Sharon Jordan looking for help with some initiative, from underage coaching to Go Games refereeing to supervising a youth disco, she immediately refers them to what she calls her ‘go-to people’.
The ‘go-top people’ are a group of 42 teenagers, all of them graduates of the Dermot Earley Youth Leadership Initiative (DEYLI) over the last two years.
In partnership with Foróige and The University of Galway, The DEYLI seeks to empower GAA members aged 15 to 18 years-old to make a positive difference in their club, county, and communities through values-based leadership.
The GAA is currently seeking new applications for the DEYLI, and it’s been such a positive experience for Round Towers Clondalkin that Sharon Jordan doesn’t hesitate to recommend other clubs also take it on.
“I'd highly recommend it, I just think it's a huge opportunity for clubs and for the young people themselves,” she told GAA.ie.
"The young people just really bought into it in terms of participation and the energy they brought to it.
“The way we packaged it was that it would involve things that you don't learn in school.
“We have a lot of people involved who play sports, obviously, because we're a GAA club, but the other aspect we stressed was that not all players will make panels or be your number one star, but to be able to have leadership skills that impact positively on the community or in other parts of your life is really valuable.
“It's been really, really positive. The buzz around the club about it, the mentors buying into it, the enthusiasm of the people who’ve taken part.”
During the DEYLI programme the young GAA members gain aptitudes in essential leadership skills in a safe and supportive environment.
Module one focuses on the individual and their leadership skills, building their self-awareness, community skills, values, and communication skills, and module two focuses on their ability to lead as part of a team enabling them to cultivate their skills further.
Jordan has seen at first-hand how it’s been a very confidence-building process for the young people who take part.
“Over the two years I would have noticed that they'd come in quite quiet in week one and week two.
“I remember two girls in particular in our first year who were very shy, and then after a few weeks they were both confident enough to individually approach me to ask for help. They were applying for jobs and wanted to put me down as a reference.
“Building their confidence is a huge part of it. Their communication skills also improve, and to watch them blossom from Night 1, Week 1, when we're telling them all these things that they're going to have to be doing, to watch them eight weeks later when they've done 15 hours of the module and have given an individual presentation, is just hugely satisfying.
“That individual presentation is only two minutes, but they all say at the start, 'I'll never be able for this', but then they all knock it out of the park. All of them.
“They have time and space to build their confidence and really contribute, that’s a huge part of doing the Dermot Earley.”
Module three of the DEYLI focuses on individual leadership aspirations and offers the participants the opportunity to lead their own project within their community from conception to completion.
“One of our young girls did her project on the drop-out rate of young girls in sport,” says Jordan.
“It culminated in a presentation to our club mentors and they were blown away by it. One coach remarked that if we had brought in a consultant to do this work and research we wouldn't have gotten the kind of information and honest feedback that she had gotten. There were very clear things that I could see mentors had taken away that night as learnings they could put immediately into practice with a team of young girls.
“There were Ukrainian refugees in a local hotel so another girl organisd a teddy-bear drive and people in the club donated teddy-bears for the children in the hotel, and that ended up being covered by our local paper.
“Another good one was an internet safety awareness presentation. We got our U-9 and U-10 boys and girls teams into the clubhouse for that chat.
“Not only did the young lad who organised that have to give the presentation, he also had to ring the internet company, arrange the venue through the club, check the sound, all that sort of stuff. So, it's their responsibility from beginning to end of all the projects, and that's a great learning and confidence-building experience.
“A couple of young people took teams and taught them specific skills or drill. We had a young guy who was a goalkeeper and he took younger teams for goal-keeping drills and skills and that was hugely positive and he continues to do them. We've also had young people organising community clean-up drives.
“We had another girl who organised a mother and baby group in a local library and she got a speech-therapist in for that to show how you can help young children develop orally.
“We've had 40 projects and they've been excellent. And every single person who started the DEYLI finished it. It's just been so positive.”
The upcoming training dates for the Dermot Earley Youth Leadership Initiative are below:
Wednesday 13th Sept and Monday 18th Sept all at 6.30pm to 9.30pm
Friday 6th October at 6.30pm to 9.30pm and Saturday 7th October 10am to 4pm
Friday 3rd November at 6.30pm to 9.30pm and Saturday 4th November 10am to 4pm
Anyone interested in being trained as a facilitator can register using the Dermot Earley Youth Leadership Initiative 2023 registration form HERE.
For further information contact National Community & Health Coordinator, Stephen Quinn, Stephen.Quinn@gaa.ie