Martina Byrne is a Youth Development Officer with Finglas Youth Service, in the Republic of Ireland. Finglas is one of the most marginalized and socially deprived areas of Dublin. Her job involves working with some of the most vulnerable young people in the area; the service provides educational, emotional and social developmental supports which empower young people to make positive life choices. Martina become directly involved with the Hockey Education Reaching Out Society (HEROS) program two years ago, and is part of the Dublin contingent bringing youth to Belfast for the week-long residential program.
Martina shares with us what HEROS means to her:
“First, I love that HEROS bestows on each participant a unique life enhancing sense of pride and confidence in their new sporting and workshop activities that many of the young people have never experienced before they took part in the HEROS program, as through it they learn to overcome different social, cultural and personal challenges.
Second, I love that young people forget their many differences and focus on having fun as they just enjoy the experience of participating in a program where they are appreciated and valued regardless of their background or abilities.
Third, I love that HEROS is a program that has a total commitment to a community of care approach to working with all the young people, as the Canadian coaches, Giants players, Dublin volunteers and Belfast volunteers each come with a myriad of skills and talents to ensure the HEROS participants get the opportunity to appreciate and engage in this exceptional program while learning and developing new skills both on and off the ice.
Fourth, I love that after a full week of HEROS camp in the company of all the young people the bonds, connections and relationships we have formed are strengthened and enhanced to the point that even I feel that I am a HERO as I learn something different from each person involved and each HEROS camp I take part in.
Finally I love the sheer joy, happiness and new respectful values the HEROS program brings to the young people, their families and the volunteers, where the sense of belonging to a unique family and feelings of camaraderie touches everyone who works or participates on a HEROS program.
I feel very privileged and fortunate to be part of such a wonderful young person’s centred inspiring developmental program that continues to adapt and change to suit the needs of the young people and I hope to be with my HEROS family for many years.”