Case Study: Cavan Youthreach

Cavan Youthreach centre was recently awarded Gold Status as a Healthy Quality Mark Organisation. Colm spoke with staff member Margie Gaynor, who delivered the Project One Sky course and credits it with being a “big part” of the award.

Margie Gaynor is a teacher in Cavan Youthreach; she feels “you’re going to do well in a second chance at education if your wellbeing is looked after…we want the learners to feel they belong ”. She was offered the opportunity to deliver the “Project One Sky” course by her coordinator, and chose to use it for the Personal Effectiveness levels 3&4 module. It was “tailor made” for the programme according to Margie; the course ‘tapped into everything that I want my learners to walk away from Youthreach with’.

Learners completed the course individually on the laptops provided, and they had lively conversations around every topic. The course worked well with the personal effectiveness folder, and with team-building and interpersonal skills. She ‘loved the layout from beginning to end’. By the time they reached the final topic the group had gotten to know each other extremely well on a more personal level and were laughing about in-jokes, etc, in a new way. 

The learners were “coming up with the solutions themselves”, they completed the quizzes each week, and the course groupwork happened “very naturally” because of all the chats that were had throughout the 10 different topics of the course. In particular, the discussion around status, fame and money, and what really brings happiness i.e. relationships with others really resonated. On completion of the course students were awarded with a certificate, which gave “a real sense of pride & achievement – some of them have come from places where they never got a good school report ”.

Margie cautioned that teacher buy-in is necessary: “if you’re going to see it as another tick-box exercise, then it’s not for you”, and “you have to be enthusiastic about it”.  Margie herself very much was, and says: “I loved the simplicity of it, because simple works”.

When interviewed by the HSE staff member in relation to health quality, she says the Project One Sky course was “music to her ears” and the interviewer “kept coming back” to hear more about the course. Cavan Youthreach was ultimately delighted to be awarded Gold Status as a Healthy Quality Mark Organisation. Margie says that the Project One Sky course was instrumental to their success in gaining this award.

Staff member: Margie Gaynor, Cavan Youthreach

Subject: Levels 3&4 Personal Effectiveness

Structure: One class per week, 45 minutes per class.

Individual vs Group Work: The class composition was mixed, some were extroverts and some introverts, with some challenging backgrounds and learners suffering from anxiety and depression. All learners had to join a group, and the size of the groups varied up to 4. 

Project Work: The class did a Cheerio childline breakfast, a team building day in Tanagh, and also an overall project – litter cleanup day. 

Delivery of POS course: Some classrooms had a projector but not all, so often two people gathered at one laptop, or they viewed the videos on their own laptop and returned to the group after to fill out the digital worksheets.

Portfolio Content: Learners printed material throughout the course, and a hard copy of the certificate was awarded at the end of the course.

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