As Patricia said I’m Lauren and I’m one of the members of the NICCY Youth Panel. I am in fact one of the newest members who started a couple of months ago. So I’m still settling in myself.
I heard about the NICCY Youth Panel through my school and I thought I’d apply and thankfully I got through. The first meeting we had was for all the new starts and you know what it’s like joining something new and not knowing anyone it can be a scary thought but I was happy to find out that NICCY wasn’t like that. It wasn’t scary at all; in fact I loved it from the very start. The staff and other youth panel members were all lovely people, oh and I can’t forget Patricia - we wouldn’t be here without her. NICCY opens up opportunities for the panel to get involved in a wide variety of different things. Being new I’m just starting to get involved so I can’t say much about what I’ve done yet. One thing I was involved in not so long ago was the NICCY Halloween Residential and what an experience that was. It was I must say one of the best weekends ever. Full of laughs, late nights and a lot of eating and not to forget banana boating in what was bound to have been the coldest place on the earth. I was freezing and I didn’t even fall in. But it wasn’t all just fun and games we did talk about some important issues with NICCY staff and received training about interviewing applicants for new jobs. Which wasn’t boring at all it was good fun and very interesting.
I’d like to say though being a teenager myself I know how hard it is for young people these days. Walking into shops and being stared at and categorised by other people. Being labelled as vandals and anti-social isn’t how we should be treated. We are usually all seen in the same way which is mostly negatively. We’re treated and portrayed unfairly by the media. We don’t want to be branded as hooligans and bad people. When the majority of us are good people of course there will always be the certain exceptions. The media very rarely shows the good work that teenagers do but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen as we all know. Sometimes the good things we do are just forgotten about and not seen when they should be.
Whether it is as a member of the Guides or on NICCY's Youth Panel it is a contribution to Northern Ireland. Which all you girls should be proud to be involved in. Don’t forget though to make a change; it can be done in the smallest way possible. Don’t feel like you can’t be involved in things because of the way people see you. Show them that everyone is unique and shouldn’t be branded just because of who they think we are.
I want to say how great I think it is that you have the opportunity to be a member of this guides unit. Guides are giving you the chance to represent the true view of what a teenager is and should be seen by others as.
Finally while a small number of young people might be accused of anti-social behaviour each night, in that same night the other 500,000 young people in Northern Ireland are studying, doing voluntary work, playing sports, taking part in drama and, yes, having fun as a Guide!
Thanks for giving me the chance to speak to you and I hope what I said shows you that you’re not alone but remember as long as you know that media can sometimes be wrong and in the case of the portrayal that all teenagers are the same it is wrong. Thank you.