The Mighty Ole Midlander’s group are from Longford, Westmeath, Laois and Offaly. There are 12 young people in the group and they meet up in the youth café at the Columb Barracks in Mullingar. Their objective was to do an art project for display in the new Tusla building in Mullingar and for everyone’s voice to be listened to and to be heard!

As part of their project the group learned about participation and how their opinion is important in services, they learned about their rights as kids and how they can make changes. They then learned about the different services in Tusla and the difference between social workers, family support workers, social care leaders and education welfare officers. They learned that they can work together to influence change in society.

During the project, they met with Rob from Investing in Children, Andrew from YAP and Rita from Tusla. They learned that an agenda day is an adult free-zone, where kids can have their opinions and views heard. They also learnt how to be agenda day facilitators which gave them loads of confidence.

Donal, the artist who helped them with their project, gave the group loads of different art materials to experiment with as part of the art experience. They had lots of art sessions where they got to draw, paint and doodle. At the end of every session they spoke about what they drew and what they felt about the experience. They completed various pieces of art on boards that represent their voices and the art pieces will be permanently displayed in the new Social work department in Mullingar.

The group applied for a slot in the Tusla Youth Participation Conference, where they did a workshop on their project. Some very senior management came to be a part of the workshop in the afternoon, including Jim Gibson! He was very interested in the changes that they suggested and he thought they had done really well, so he invited them to Brunel, Tusla Head Office.

The group then decided they would like the Investing in Children award. Rob came over from the UK and talked to them about their work. They decided they wanted to stay together as a group, so an application was put in for more funding to continue with their participatory work. After that they met for a fun day out in the Jump lanes in Athlone.

When the group attended Brunel, they were presented with their investing in Children awards. They got a grand tour; food and even got a huge reception when they went in, with all the staff clapping as they arrived. Moving forward, there’s no stopping them, they have been granted more funding to continue with their work. They are hoping to get more kids involved and continue trying to make changes within services and society. 

This project was then presented at the “Young People Speak Out – How Can I Bring About Change” event that took place in Croke Park on 17th August.