It was a very welcome return for Clare Youth Service’s Synergy Youth Festival. The project brings young people from all over Clare who work together to plan and run an Alcohol and Drug Free Youth Festival in Violet Hill in East Clare. Many of the organising group return year on year including volunteers from Belfast and young workers who take their leave to attend as much as possible during the week. This CYS project is funded by the Mid-West Regional Drug and Alcohol Forum through Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board. The Irish Girl Guides kindly support the project by allowing use of their facility and forest at Violet Hill.
The organising group spend a week on site learning a host of skills including planning, networking, budgeting and team building. The group also gain practical construction skills and this year were treated to a workshop on creating furniture from pallets. The group are supported each year by extraordinary facilitators Emma and Bonnie who are a power house of energy and masters of the fine art of working completely in partnership with young people to create not only great learning opportunities but lifelong memories that come from unleashing young people’s imagination.
This year the group selected Harry Potter Inspired Fantastical Magic as their theme and created a magical experience for the young people who were lucky to be able to attend on the day. They built a replica Diagon Alley complete with Wand Maker, Apothecary, and Fortune Teller. Around every corner and tree was something magical – a complete feast for the eyes. There were workshops in henna tattoo, face painting, fortune telling, candle making, wand making and some beautiful pendants produced. There were so many wonderful spaces simply to relax and connect or collapse after participating in a complex game of Quidditch.
The group feasted on hundreds of homemade pizza – some perhaps a little on the overcooked side!, cauldrons of sweets, green potions, chocolate frogs, and chocolate snitches from the grand hall and just before the music a monster bar-b que where vegetarians and carnivores were well catered for.
The Festival stage hosted some amazing performances from individuals and groups where unique, original and polished performers were all met with the enthusiasm often reserved for commercial festivals.
Delving into the woods led to the discovery of a Dragon overseeing a disco space complete with florescent lighting where festival goers were amazed to see their face paint come alive at night. For the adventurous there was Hagrid’s house hidden deep in the woods while some were lucky to be able to take a rest on the hammocks placed among the trees. Wherever one looked there was a feast for the eyes and soul as the Crew thrived in seeing their work appreciated by so many while the festival goers were treated to a host of new experiences and space and time to connect and have fun. Youth Work at its best.