My Six and a Half Years of Rise
Six and a half years…that’s longer than I’ve ever really done one thing. I’ve served with Innovista Ireland and our Rise Leadership Programme for longer than I was in secondary school or university. It’s been an amazing time full of learning, challenges, laughs and so much change.
In September 2013, I had just moved to Ireland from the States and I walked into a room in Ballymun, Dublin to find teens full of angst, energy and ideas. After 7 schools years, I’ve seen over 400 teenagers finish the programme and over 50 girls mentored. When I began, we had piloted one group and drafted a manual for the programme. Today, we have a fully branded manual, USBs, online access, developed training and several pilots completed by youth workers across Ireland. I have had the of pleasure working with 5 Rise teammates during that time allowing us to grow in capacity and skills needed.
I have seen the programme impact communities from Dublin to Mullingar to Coleraine. I have heard stories of teenagers’ sadness toward the grip drugs have had on their neighbourhood, seen their eyes light up with a new idea which will make their world a better place, youth workers engaging with their teens in a deeper way and numerous community projects led by young people.
One of my favourite parts of the Rise Programme is that it tells teenagers they matter, they have good ideas and they have a responsibility to their community and their own reality. They are part of our society and can yield great influence on those around them. I love that they get to decide and voice what they like and don’t like about their communities. Things like litter, dirty needles, homelessness, not having a proper canteen, city noise but also things like living near their best friends, the nearby cinema, the chipper down the street, community spirit, youth clubs and so much more.
I’ve learned teenagers have such passion, such energy…it’s all about where they funnel it, where adults help them harness it. The look in their eyes when you deeply listen to what they are saying or the moment they realise they (despite their age and what others say about them) can make a true difference, they can be the cause for change. It is an amazing thing to encourage, to give courage, to those who will build our future world, whatever that future world may look like.
I am excited to see how Rise can help unleash more teens across Ireland to positively impact their communities to make our world a better place to live, work and grow!
Written by Anne Baenziger (May 2020)