Jade Prentice – our amazing Kick the Dust Youth Engagement Worker – is sadly moving on from YMCA to further her career in mental health. While we wish her all the best for the future, YMCA Norfolk wants to take this opportunity to showcase her fantastic work with the project over the last year.
What is ‘Kick the Dust?’
‘Kick the Dust’ Norfolk is an exciting 4-year project supported by the National Lottery through the National Lottery Heritage Fund. It is aimed at young people aged 11-25 years of age to help them engage in heritage and to be more involved in having their voice present in Norfolk Museums Service.
At YMCA Norfolk we are working in Partnership with Norfolk Museums Service to help our residents become involved in this project and partake not only in fun and heritage-based activities, but to also have their voice shape the Museums service going forward; in turn offering volunteering, training and work placements.
This is achieved through various levels of engagement; within YMCA we created a ‘Pre-Player’ Level, which are activities that are offered in our housing services across all sites (covering Norwich, Great Yarmouth & Kings Lynn) to help them engage in positive activities, learn new skills and make new friends.
The next level is ‘Player’, where the young person works with the Kick the Dust Project Worker and takes part in a range of activities within the Museum such as a tour of the dunegons or the Escape Room. In these sessions they also get a taste of different jobs within the Museums Sector by meeting professionals and getting involved in hands-on activities with them.
After this we have the ‘Shaper’ level, which allows the young people to be more involved in directing and shaping the project. These people attend forums and discussions to influence not only how YMCA Norfolk offers sessions, but also the direction of Norfolk Museums Service when working with young people.
A big part of the ‘Shaper’ level is also about young people volunteering at the museums and creating their own tours and exhibitions within the museums. Finally, we have the ‘Leader’ level which is where young people get involved in volunteering and work placements, which prepare them for Museum Apprenticeships & Traineeships which give people the opportunity to work at the museums whilst receiving qualifications and training.
The focus of this project is getting young people involved in Heritage & Arts, as well as educating them about the history of Norfolk.
Jade’s Journey with Kick the Dust Norfolk
Jade – who has worked with Kick the Dust for the last year – originally worked for YMCA on another project, and it was during this time that she learnt the importance of activities and engagement within YMCA’s housing services. While we believe a safe place to stay is of the utmost importance, positive activities and community engagement is also at the centre of YMCA Norfolk’s values.
Jade said: “I liked the idea of working for Kick the Dust because it is very person-centred project; our young people’s voices are at the heart of the project, and that helps them remain engaged because it highlights the importance of their opinions and contribution to our community.
“I always want to work in a job where people’s voices are heard and valued, because that is how you make someone feel accepted and appreciated.”
Jade said she has noticed a huge transition in the young people who have taken part in the project, with many feeling more welcome and accepted in local museums and heritage sites:
“When we started this project I remember young people saying that they felt they could not go into a museum because of who they were, but through this project they have been given the opportunity to; and they have learnt that history and heritage is all around us. It has really illustrated the amazing history of Norfolk, and what their personal heritage is too.
“It has also illustrated how interested young people are in history. When asked what they would like to do for activities within this project, most of them always say how they would like to go back and live like people did in the war and before technology, so they could understand different points of view from different age groups.
“It has shown to me that young people want time away from technology and to spend time in the world just being,” Jade added.
Transforming Young Lives
In addition to learning about heritage and history, Jade and Kick the Dust’s young people have also helped to co-ordinate the YMCA 175 Exhibition & Roadshow, which is travelling across the UK, and will come to Norwich in February 2020. This has not only enhanced historical knowledge surrounding the YMCA, but also encouraged young people to use their research skills to gather information to be used in the exhibition.
Gary, a YMCA Norfolk young person who has taken part in Kick the Dust, said: “the project has opened me up to new possibilities and made me realise everything I am capable of.”
Gary is actively engaged with the YAB in Great Yarmouth and does a lot of project work with MAP, but he says that Kick the Dust has given him the opportunity to partake in YMCA and made him settle into the environment a lot more.
“I can’t pick out my favourite memory with Kick the Dust, all of it has been great so far. It has given me opportunities to always have fun and keep smiling, even when I’ve had a bad day. My engagement with Kick the Dust has also meant I’ve built lots of new friendships,” Gary added.
Jade – who supported Gary’s engagement – said her highlight of working on the project has been seeing a huge change in the confidence of the young people she worked with:
“Some young people I have worked with on this project suffered with such low confidence and anxiety, and after partaking in some activities within YMCA they then feel confident enough to go to the Museum and to then attend Forums and voice what they would like to do.
“To see young people travel through the levels of Kick the Dust has been so rewarding, because you see them grow in their confidence and realise what they are capable of. To see young people learn new skills and be amazed at what they can do will always be the most fulfilling part of this job.
“It has also been so rewarding as well to work closely with amazing teams throughout Norfolk and to learn the work the Museums do with different groups of young people. It is nice to see Norfolk Museums Service open to hearing young people’s voices and see the importance of this project.”
We wish Jade all the best for the future, and can’t thank her enough for her outstanding contribution to YMCA Norfolk and our partnership projects.
If you’d like to find out more about you can take part in Kick the Dust, please click here.