Bronagh O’Neill is a Community Youth Worker working as Manager of the Canal Communities Regional Youth Service for the past 12 years. She studied Drama and French in Trinity College in the late 80’s, Youth and Community Work in NUIM in the early 90’s and more recently in 2011 returned to NUI Maynooth to complete a MA in Applied Social Studies. Bronagh has worked in a variety of youth work roles in Glaswegian and Dublin South Inner City communities. This work has varied from outreach work in Glasgow, work with young drug users in Rialto Youth Project, managing a regional youth service with a focus on supporting voluntary led youth activities and latterly managing the establishment of a new youth project in Bluebell, Dublin 12. Working in communities where children and young people experience grave inequalities and poverty, demonstrated through early school leaving, drug and alcohol use, early parenthood and unemployment, has led Bronagh to understand that we do not all start out equal and that until ‘we’ the citizens of Ireland chose to change this these inequalities will prevail. A strong belief in young people’s development through youth work, individual personal growth and as active citizens in changing society, drives her commitment and long career in youth work. Her experience informs her belief that the arts can play a powerful role in youth work, where young people find forms of expression to explore who they are and communicate what they think or feel about any subject of their choice. The development of strong relationships between young people, artist and youth worker is key to any projects success. Film, music, drama, photography, painting, dance, and visual arts can all be made accessible to young people through youth work and the results are tangible at personal and community levels. Young people’s engagement in the arts can create an avenue for the expression of their strength and belief in change.
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