MY pride and joy

Seventeen-year-old Rachel Edwards is chair of the National Lottery-funded Merthyr Youth Forum. Here she describes how the group helps form lasting friendships and gives young people a positive place to go:

Rachel Edwards
Rachel Edwards

Merthyr Youth started off as a small project with high hopes for the future. There is no way I could have predicted a year ago how far we would have come and how much I would personally develop. MY (Merthyr Youth) has opened up so many opportunities for me and I speak for many others when I say the friendships you make here are strong and meaningful, being carried to the future as will the skills we have all gained here.

Having been a member since it began, it’s amazing to see how high the members characters and aspirations have soared within this environment – creating confident, outgoing and friendly young people who are ready to do great in the world. MY is run by young people for young people. Personally I haven’t seen any other youth club in my area that does this and I feel that genuinely handing young people control of their project is a great and rewarding thing to do. It encourages young people to get involved in running a business by learning how to work with other people, respect others and see just how much it takes to keep this place going.

MY is open seven days a week with a variety of activities for all ages. For MY members Monday evening means pool competitions and MYstery events. Tuesdays mean MY Drama. The number of young people we have at drama is outstanding and the dedication just keeps growing with so many talented young actors and actresses wanting to take part and perform in shows. The scripts we have written for us and the effort put into each session is amazing and I speak for everyone when I say it is such an enjoyable thing to do – and has really improved our acting abilities as well as our confidence. We’re all really looking forward to our Christmas production of A Christmas Carol and our traditional panto – Robin Hood.

Wednesdays host MY WestEnd, where young people can enter the world of musical theatre and learn to sing and dance like stage performers. The atmosphere is fun and enjoyable and our first musical theatre performance of both Grease and Grease 2 is going to be a fantastic. On Thursdays MY Bootcamp gets physical with our fitness and cheerleading activities. Where our members get involved, work hard and develop team work and trust. Merthyr Youth is always growing to meet the needs of young people and MY Football training has recently started on weekends to reach out to a new group of people to welcome into the MY family.

Members relaxing at the club
Members relaxing at the club

As you can see MY works very hard to provide a friendly, educational and safe environment where we as young people can get our voices heard and grow, with a huge variety of activities to include as many different interests as possible. The fact that we are primarily run by volunteers who are there almost every night through the week shows just how much MY means to us all. However it would be impossible for us to do what we do without the support of grants and funding.

All of our activities are fantastic and well attended but the support we have received from Big Lottery Fund to run our Saturday Youth Club means we can round off the MY week with a BANG – giving us a chance to have a few hours chatting and relaxing with our friends. Karaoke is very popular with members eager to get up and show off their talents. We also have games consoles, table tennis, pool tables, many games, various competitions and much more.

MY Saturday Night Youth Club really shows how much of a community we are here, and means that all the people who take part in the different activities during the week can spend time together as one big group. Merthyr Youth is never a quiet or a dull place. With a brilliant atmosphere where we all keep the smiles on each other’s faces. So I would like to thank National Lottery Community Fund on behalf of myself and all the young people at MY for helping us to sustain our project and giving the youth of Merthyr a place to go.

Editor’s note: Merthyr Youth received £4,950 from the National Lottery Community Fund’s Awards for All programme to develop a Saturday night youth club for young people aged between 11 – 25 years.

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