Fostering young people’s creativity through youth work

A mixed method study

Introduction

Exciting opportunity alert! Are you interested in contributing to a research project on youth work and creativity. Share your valuable insights to shape the future of youth work policies and practices in Ireland. We hope this message finds you well. We’re thrilled to bring you a unique and rewarding opportunity to get involved in a research project that’s all about youth work and creativity. Your valuable insights and experiences can make a significant contribution to this important study. Participating in this research is entirely voluntary, and we understand that your time is precious. Below, you’ll find more information about what this opportunity entails and how you can be a part of it:

Information on the study

Saoirse Reynolds Conlon, is a doctoral student, in the Department of Applied Social Studies, Maynooth University and is currently employed by the National Youth Council of Ireland. She has recently been awarded the Irish Research Council’s employment-based scholarship which began September 2023. As part of the requirements for the doctorate in Social Sciences, she is undertaking a research study under the supervision of Dr. Sinead McMahon and Professor Maurice Devlin. This research has been approved by Maynooth University Social Research Ethics Committee. This research involves a partnership between Maynooth University and the National Youth Council of Ireland and is intended to contribute to the development of both policy and practice relating to youth work and creativity.

This research entitled ‘Fostering young people’s creativity through youth work: A mixed method study’ aims to find out if there are features in youth work (non-formal education, voluntary participation, etc.) that support young people to be creative. The goal is to help make these things better supported by policies and improve how they’re done in practice.

Ireland currently has policy frameworks and instruments related both to creativity and youth work. Nevertheless, there has been a lack of specific focus, both in policy and research, on whether, why, and how youth work possesses distinctive creative potential. This study will attempt to address this gap, drawing from relevant Irish Policies (Young Ireland: the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People (0-24) 2023-2028; Creative Youth Plan 2023-2027), European policies (New European Agenda for Culture 2018; European Youth Strategy 2019-2027) and insights from international literature on youth work and creativity.

Creativity in current Irish policy is described as ‘the use of imaginative capabilities to transform thinking and produce original and innovative ideas and solutions [involving] collaboration, investigation, challenging assumptions and taking risks and…expressed in [multiple forms and media]’ (Creative Ireland 2022). This study wants to explore the similar features of youth work and this description.

There are two parts within this study that involve participants:

  • Part 1 will consist of two online surveys with (a) youth workers/youth arts practitioners and (b) young people aged 18 to 24 years in the Republic of Ireland.
  • Part 2 will consist of eight ‘story circles’ that will take place in person and online.

Please read on for further information.

Part 1 of the study- Anonymous online surveys (young people aged 18 to 24 years) and youth workers/ youth arts practitioners

Part 1 will consist of two online surveys with (a) youth workers/youth arts practitioners and (b) young people aged 18 to 24 years in Ireland. Participation will involve participating in an online survey, which will take approximately 10-12 minutes to complete. They will ask questions that explore

  • In what ways do the distinctive features of youth work (e.g. non-formality, voluntary participation, groupwork emphasis) relate to its potential to foster creativity in children and young people?
  • What lessons can be applied by youth workers in general to ensure that their practice with and for young people is more consciously and effectively creative?
  • What lessons can be applied by policy makers to develop better synergies between policy for creativity and for youth work?

Further information sheet:

Before you take part you should read more about:

  • The purpose and who has approved this study
  • What’s being asked of you as a potential participant in this study
  • How your information will be collected, stored and kept anonymous.
  • What will happen to the results
  • What to do if there is a problem and who to contact

The link to the survey’s information sheet can be found here.

Participate in the survey:

If you have read the information sheet and are happy to proceed, please click on the link that best applies to you:

  • Survey 1: Is looking for young people who are currently involved as a participant in a youth work/ youth arts setting. They need to be aged 18 to 24years and living in Ireland. Survey 1 including a consent form can be found here.
  • Survey 2: Is looking for youth workers/youth arts practitioners who are actively working in a youth work/ youth arts setting. They need to be aged 18 years and older and working in Ireland. Survey 2 including a consent form can be found here.

Part 2 of the study- Story Circles (young people aged 18 to 24 years) and youth workers/ youth arts practitioners

Part 2 will consist of eight ‘story circles’ that will take place in person and online. A Story Circle is a gathering of people in a relaxed social setting, where they share personal stories to address common community issues and express their experiences creatively. This story circle will consist of 6 to 8 people max and will be facilitated by the researcher. In these story circles you will be invited to bring a photograph/ image/ object, this optional item will act as a prompt to begin your story and should relate to one or all of the following:

  • Thinking outside of the box in youth work
  • Youth work toolkit that fosters creativity
  • A good day in youth work
  • Obstacles or barriers that impact promoting creativity amongst young people

Further information sheet:

Before you take part you should read more about:

  • The purpose and who has approved this study
  • What’s being asked of you as a potential participant in this study
  • How your information will be collected, stored and kept anonymous.
  • What will happen to the results
  • What to do if there is a problem and who to contact

The link to the story circles information sheet can be found here.

Preparation for Story Circle

For further information on the story circle and how to prepare for it, have a look at the story guide which can be found here

If you intend to bring a photograph along,  you can refer to NYCI Guidelines for Use of Photography and Recordings of Young People which can be found here

Sign up for a Story Circle

If you wish to take part in a story circle please submit your interest to this Microsoft form.

if you require further information please contact: Saoirse.reynoldsconlon@mu.ie