Name: Grace McGee
Organisation: Tacú Family Resource Centre – Based in the Maple Youth Centre
What was your experience with health promotion before you began with Specialist Certificate in Youth Health Promotion Course?
I work as a Youth and Community Worker for Tacú Family Resource Centre in Ballinarobe. I started my academic journey at Castlebar College of Further Education in 2008 as a mature student with a Social Studies course. I continued my studies as I embarked on my next academic journey at NUI Maynooth where I graduated in 2012 with an Honours degree in Social Science. From there, I progressed to postgraduate studies, competing the Masters of Community Development in NUI Galway where I graduated in 2014. Up to this point, I did not have a true understanding of the concept of Health Promotion. Once I started the course, I found it extraordinary that I was already implementing this subconsciously. The course has given me the opportunity to apply theory and structure to my practice.
What have you learned during the Specialist Certificate Course?
The Specialist Certificate in Youth Health Promotion has led me to consider my organisations and my beliefs around health promotion. The course has clarified for me that I love working with young people and I believe that this course in particular has helped me to put structure on the work I do. I have gained knowledge, skills and enhanced my values; everything that I believe is needed to work with and empower young people. The support from the staff and my peers in this course was just amazing.
Can you identify one learning that you will continuously use and highlight and why is that one learning important and vital to you?
Absolutely, the Promoting Health in the Youth Centre – A Practical Manual, will be my bible!!! I have learnt so much from the manual (theory and practice) that I will be focusing all my work through a health promotion lens. I always believed that young people were my compass to best practice in youth work. Now I believe that young people and my ‘health promotion hat’ will be my compass to best practice in youth work.
What has the benefit been for you personally from completing the course and why?
I have learnt so much personally and have learnt so much, which will be of benefit for my organisation. I facilitate personal and social development programmes that are both evidence based, and evidence informed. However, I began to question what I am doing in the context of health promotion in my daily life in the workplace; something that young people are mirroring and I came to the realisation that this was self-care. Self-care (physical and mental health) is an area that I have focused on both in my personal life and in my working life. The course provided me with the opportunity to take a step back and really consider this.
What has and will be the benefit for your organisation and why?
The approaches used in the course gave me the opportunity to enter the space I work in with a health promotion lens. The assignments are practically based, which is great. For example, the settings approach and the focus group assignment both gave me the opportunity to implement change in the organisation.
As a result of attending the course, I plan to run a health promotion workshop for the staff and volunteers at my organisation, implement a health promotion policy and also begin the Health Quality Mark.
What are your thoughts and opinions on working with the National Youth Health Programme?
I cannot say enough about working with the National Youth Health Programme. The staff are so supportive, enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and the access to resources have been very beneficial to my learning and work practice. I cannot imagine doing health promotion specialising in youth anywhere else, and it would not have been possible without the National Youth Health Programme. I will always be thankful for the education, guidance and supports that I received there and more importantly, the friendships and contacts I made.
Have you any advice you would like to give to someone thinking of completing the Specialist Certificate in Youth Health Promotion?
It is both a challenging and rewarding course but definitely worth all the effort. I firmly believe that the Certificate in Youth Health Promotion is a life-changing course, as I now consider my beliefs, ideologies and work through a health promotion lens.