Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Half term holidays - an alternative?

In this part of the world it is half term. This means the town is full of young people who seem to have nothing to do except moon about in the shopping centre, dropping litter and making life less pleasant for everyone else. There must be a better way. I admit that if I was a teacher, I'd want a break in the middle of each twelve week stretch of facing the enemy. So, while the schools are not providing academic lessons for a week, what can we do with the young people?

Some activity is required that will occupy them, teach them some life skills and generally prepare them for later life. How's this for an idea? : Every young person should spend a week doing something outdoors. It could be helping in the gardens of a local park or helping mentally handicapped people in therapy gardens, or coaching younger children in outdoor activities, any form of sport from football to rock climbing, geology, forestry, canal or water maintenance, creating or maintaining habitat for wildlife, recycling - anything that involves working outside to the general benefit of themselves and the rest of the community. Until a young person has , say 9, certificates to confirm that they have completed 9 such weeks, they are unemployable (i.e. cannot have an NI number) and ineligible for any benefits.

Having reread it, it sounds a bit right-wing, and clearly some significant investment would be needed, but what an opportunity for our youngsters and what an opportunity for the rest of us to invest in young people. I pledge my vote to any political party that adopts it in their manifesto.

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