The Support Centre in North Presentation Secondary School in Farranree provides a Service for girls with emotional and behavioural difficulties. It is also used by the Cork School Completion Programme.
Since the generous financial support given by the AIB ‘Better Ireland Programme’, the Support Centre has developed two new programmes for groups as well as improving the support for individual students.
This is a National Crime Awareness Initiative and has been running in the Support Centre for the past three years. This programme responds in a comprehensive and holistic way to the issue of offending behaviour amongst young people. The group, which runs for twelve weeks is facilitated by a teacher and a youth worker. It includes sessions on crime awareness, relationships, drugs and alcohol. The students are encouraged to participate, discuss and reflect on issues like ‘who am I’, power, peer pressure and gender related areas.
This programme is a six week introduction programme for all first year students to help them cope better with the transition from primary to secondary school. The students are introduced to the Support Centre and its teachers in small groups and learn about confidentiality and boundaries. Games, discussions and reflection improve their social skills and the girls have the opportunity to talk about the problems they encounter in the school as well as how to solve these in a relaxed and fun atmosphere.
This introduction has been of great benefit to the students who are referred to the Support Centre at a later stage.
This three year intensive training as Art Therapist (also Art Psychotherapist) has been of great value to each student attending the Support Centre. The qualified Art Therapist endeavours to provide a trusting environment and encourages the client to use art materials in whatever way she wishes. In this therapeutic environment both the process and product can help externalise feelings and emotions that may otherwise remain unexpressed. It gives the students the opportunity to deal with issues like bereavement, bullying, stress, substance abuse, peer pressure, relationship issues and the many other problems teenagers encounter. Art Therapy can help improve self esteem and can aid concentration.
During the last years we have successfully introduced coffee/ craft mornings for the parents and would like to develop this idea further. By supporting the parents in their vital roles as primary carers we are in turn supporting the students to reach their full educational potential as well as becoming responsible and caring citizens. In working with the parents we hope to help younger siblings and maybe even the rest of the family.
Parents of young people with challenging behaviour are often distressed and unable to cope. We therefore hope to include the parents more and support them in a way which is non-threatening and has a positive influence on their parental role. A healthy parent-teenager relationship is vital in helping a teenager develop into an emotionally stable and healthy adult.