Staff members and teenagers with the CAN YDP met with Minister of State with responsibility for Youth Justice James Browne, TD, earlier his morning.
A government minister who visited Newbridge has praised the efforts of the town's Youth Diversion Programme (YDP).
Minister of State with responsibility for Youth Justice, James Browne, visited the premises of the Curragh and Newbridge YDP, also known as CAN YDP, at Charlotte Street this morning.
CAN YDP is part of the In Sync organisation; the project, along with the BRIDGE project in Leixlip (also run by In Sync Youth and Family Services), recently received additional funding of €150,262 for Boundary Extension and Family Support.
This will allow the project to broaden their service to Kildare Town, Monasterevin, and Rathangan.
It will also allow for the appointment of a Family Support Worker.
This morning, Minister Browne sat down with staff members, teenagers and local gardaí involved with the YDP, where they discussed their interests and aspirations for the future.
The teenagers also gave the Minister an insight into social problems that are affecting numerous young people in Newbridge, which included drug addiction, self-harm and bullying.
In the case of drugs, the teenagers said that cannabis and cocaine were a big issue for many Newbridge teenagers, and they also noted an increase in vaping with THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol, a psychoactive chemical found in cannabis).
Speaking about the YDP, one of the team leaders, Ciara Kinsella said: "The purpose of the YDP is to help young people, aged between 12 and 17, who have been involved in antisocial behaviour and/or petty crime.
"It was originally known as the Curragh/Newbridge Garda Youth Diversion Project, but we got a lot of teenagers telling us that this was too long, so we shortened it!" she added with a laugh.
She also said that the group has 25 teenagers, with slightly more boys than girls, and that while most are referred to the YDP by gardaí, some are also referred from the Child and Family Agency, Tusla.
As for activities the YDP take part in, Ms Kinsella said that they run courses centering on drug awareness, sexual health and consent, behavioural support, employability skills, and driving theory.
The group also take part in fun and outdoor programmes, such as sea swims and day trips to venues such as Tayto Park.
Left to Right: Mick Donlon (Juvenile Liason Officer (JLO), The Minister, Ciara Kinsella (CAN Project Team Leader), Kate Kelly (CAN Project Member), Joyce Brennan (Youth Work Coordinator - In Sync Youth and Family Services), Rebecca Bogatu (Member), Martina Weir (Member), Roisin Leahy (Member), Jacinta Maguire (Youth Worker CAN Project).
"The CAN YDP is a safe place for young people to interact, and the government's extension (to funding) is a very welcome one, because now everywhere in Kildare will now be covered by a YDP."
Another team leader, Joyce Brennan, also praised the news of the extension: "More people in Kildare will be able to access the service, which is good news for those who need it, but wouldn’t have previously had access to it."
Minister Browne also told the Leader that when he was appointed as Minister of State for Law Reform and Youth, he realised just how important the presence of YDPs was across Ireland, and wanted to support them as much as he could.
He also praised the central location of the CAN YDP, and said about its purpose: "No one is born a criminal; people who end up carrying out antisocial behaviour, (there is) something has lead them down that path, and what we are trying to do is provide a pathway for them."
The Minister added: "We did see a rise in antisocial behaviour following the pandemic, due to a lack of social outlets and thus a lot of pent-up frustration and mental health issues, but that is everywhere… I was in New York in May visiting the police service over there and said the very same thing."
He further said that the government hopes to have a YDP in every county by early next year, and is looking into putting more funding into family support services and early-intervention courses aimed at pre-teens, as part of the govt's Youth Justice Strategy.
'A CRITICAL ASPECT'
Minister Browne also noted that was a 'consistency' between those who dropped out of education and those who ended up in prison in later life: "Prisons are full of people who left school at 11 or 12 years of age.
"It is a critical aspect, and we want to make sure that these young people stay in school."
Concluding his thoughts on the CAN YDP, he said: "I think this YDP centre is already making a huge difference in Newbridge, and it will only go from strength to strength."
Youth Diversion Projects (YDPs) engage with vulnerable young people through a range of supports, including education, training and employment support, social enterprise initiatives, as well as personal development and supports such as mentoring, and personal development activities.
The CAN YDP is one of two YDPs within In Sync Youth and Family Services, and was established in 2008.
As a part of the wider In Sync organisation, participants within the CAN YDP can access youth work programmes and supports, the Halo adolescent substance use project and In Sync’s youth counselling service.
CAN participants can also become part of the In Sync Youth and Family Service’s Junior Board, where they have a key voice in the work of the organisation.
The project is managed and operated by Kildare Youth Services and funded by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform (IJYS) and the European Social Fund.
Further information about the CAN YDP can be found here.
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