Youth issues get a hearing at ASKUS Conference

THERE was a distinctly Parisian flavour to the conversations between young people and Coleraine councillors during the recent ASKUS Youth Conference 2012, World Café event.

Held in Flowerfield Arts Centre in Portstewart, the relaxed event was sponsored by Council in partnership with North East Education and Library Board (NEELB) Youth Service.

The conference gave elected representatives and the Youth Service, the opportunity to talk to a diverse group of more than 50 young people from youth clubs across the borough about issues of common interest.

A range of topics were explore, including perspectives and views on the experience of being a young person in the borough, anti-social behaviour, racism, sectarianism and sexism, among other forms of discrimination.

The Mayor of Coleraine, Alderman Maurice Bradley, said: “This was a great opportunity to engage with a wide cross section of young people and hear their views about growing up and living in Coleraine Borough.

“The unique style of ‘The World Café’ approach proved to be a simple, effective and flexible way for hosting dialogue with such a large group. It encouraged a relaxed atmosphere and gave everyone the chance to have meaningful and informative conversations about the issues which concern us all.”

Nicole Cahoon, leader of the Organising Committee for the ASKUS Conference said: “This was a great fun event as well as an opportunity to get our views across to the councillors and other leaders in the borough.

“They can sometimes seem so out of touch with us young people, but they really seemed to be listening - and they had very interesting things to tell us about too! I think we all want to find ways of keeping this kind of dialogue going.”