A group of young people have joined together to have their say on sailing and boating in Northern Ireland.

The RYANI Youth Forum group, which is being piloted for one year, has been formed as part of an initiative to empower young people, encouraging them to participate actively in society. With 18 members registered, it is the first time that the initiative has been set up within the RYA regions.

The group are also being given the chance to improve their own lives by highlighting their needs and interests, as well putting forward their views to the governing body.

Chair of RYANI Jackie Patton comments: “At RYANI we hope that this group will, as individuals, return to their clubs as ambassadors for their sport. Perhaps even set up Youth Committees. Already, there are a few clubs across NI that are very successful with this model.”

Earlier this year young people and adults were consulted on the idea of a youth forum.

Jackie Patton explains: “It was clear that there is a desire for a new approach to youth development within RYANI as an organisation. The intention being that this will enhance what is currently on offer and not a disruption to any other programme.”

To help with the smooth running of the initiative, RYANI has partnered with the NI Youth Forum. A professional youth work team has been engaged which will provide valuable input and support, to deliver an exciting programme.

At the first session, which took place on 30 October at Sketrick House, Newtownards, 12 young people met to create terms of reference, discuss programme content, schedules and communications.

Through the Youth Forum participants will be able to avail of fun activities, extended boating experiences, residentials and valuable links with other youth organisations.

Jackie Patton adds: “We believe as an organisation that young people have an important role to play, they can be part of the solution and must be listened to. The Youth Forum has been created as a platform to facilitate them. The timing is perfect, as we look towards the creation of a new RYANI Strategy.”

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