Hey, I'm Lauren and I'm one of the young people behind the site.
The first time we all met the only thing we knew we had in common was that we all have backgrounds in Tusla but through doing all this work we have learned so much about each other and we are all so passionate about it. Through doing this project and watching it grow, our group has really grown up and became like a little family. I found it really fun and easy to do the work with these guys because they all truly believe in what we are doing just as much as I do and I think that makes us a great team.
It was 3 years ago when we first started to meet up and despite us all having our own lives, dealing with whatever ever else was going on at home or doing the mocks, junior cert, leaving cert or college - we have met up more than 100 times.
We’ve spent all that time working on it, shaping and reshaping all the language and images to make sure it was child friendly and you could hear young people’s voices through the language. We wrote things then rewrote them and then rewrote them again to make it perfect, that sounds long and trust me it was at times. But looking at the finished project it's so so worth it. I need to say thank you to Tusla, they are the ones who gave us the opportunity, they made sure we had a say in everything and supported us to make decisions, we chose everything from the colours to the designs to the text, imagery, video styles, layout literally everything. They had really helpful suggestions and tips but we never felt that they told us what to do. And trust me we said no to a lot of stuff but they have been great through all of it.
Its an amazing site and all the information is so accessible and easy to understand - we made sure to break the site into different age groups because we know that different information suited different ages. Having information which is understandable was super important to all of us because we really felt it wasn’t ever available before. I really think that giving young people information empowers them to be more involved in making decisions about their own lives, and this website will be a tool to help that along and I'm super happy to have been part of it.
It's not all been work either, we've done a lot of fun stuff; they went to Jumpzone without me? I wasn’t in the country for that one, but I know everyone had such a great time, especially Lynn and Lauren. Chelsea however lost her sock and Mark ended up in hospital...We went to Skillzone too where we learned that Lucinda could have been a pro baseball player. We also went on a road trip to Wexford to meet with other young people and it was that bus journey we got to appreciate Dillon’s DJ skills. At Christmas we went for all you can eat and i’m pretty sure me and Aimee sampled every dessert in the place. After we went ice-skating and Sean showed us he was a pro skater. During the summer we went to Tayto Park and absolutely guilted poor Lindsay into getting on that big rollarcoaster, god love her. Funniest memory ever. We’ve eaten a lot of pizza played a lot of Dobble and made some really fun memories throughout the process.
I really love and believe in what we are doing and I have gained so much confidence and ownership over my own situation. I feel so much better equipped to talk about all these scary words like care and social workers because they aren't actually scary when you understand them, and I really hope that this website will help other young people to feel the same way.
This is the most fulfilling project I've ever taken part in, watching this website grow from an idea in an Agenda Day™ to a real working website!