Wednesday, August 30, 2006

PZ Club Note 1

To everyone who made this year a great one at The Paradise Zone Youth Centre...during the year and the summer scheme a great big...

...that includes adult volunteers and young people and young volunteers and whether a Cadet or a Timothy or on placement or part of the Corps or a member of the community...or someone like Josh who chose (some might say, bizarrely) to spend his 16th birthday volunteering at summer club...without you...I'd be sitting on my own in club knitting toilet roll covers watching the cob webs grow on the dying plants (cos no one would have watered them)... so ...


The club year is over so I'm off to Ireland...cos my mum told me to come home and see her...I think I am in trouble...I think my mum thinks I have been naughty in staying away too long (although she would say 'bold' rather than 'naughty' cos thats how we talk in Cork).

Anyway before I go I thought I'd give out some DFYD (that's short for Dates For Your Diary)...

Week beginning...

Sept 4th - Roz & Emma off...yay!!!!!

Wendy & Laura to start discussion TBA

Sept 11th - Programme Plan & Prep week...would love any input/help...

Summer report to funders by any more comments on summer clubs let us know.

Sept 17th - Meeting up with the team week

During the week is time to meet up with Emma and me to talk about U & club...any issues or ideas u have, or needs u have for the coming year....please contact one of us to book a time.

Training: This week is also available for induction and other training ie. IT room etc...or even how to play the playstation games...please contact to book times.

Team meeting on Wednesday 2oth @ 7pm - Agenda...

  • nibbles
  • meeting new members of the team
  • catching up with others if u can remember who they are
  • more nibbles and perhaps a cool refreshing drink
  • going through the programme
  • perhaps some fun games/activities run by some of our young volunteer
  • workers choosing evaluations/reflections to lead
  • workers choosing activities/sessions to lead
  • more nibble unless they have run out, in which case I will chastise myself and make a mental note not to be so stingey with the nibbles next time.


  • Please bring diary (or back of hand will do if u are not allergic to ink & don't plan on washing)
  • Please bring any copies of updated paperwork ie. first aid certs/crbs/minibus cert etc.
  • Please bring any changes to personal details ie. contact details/medical details

PS. Please remember to bring or do anything I have forgotten to say that you should bring or do...and if u could leave a comment so that others may be reminded I would be extremely grateful and will provide the nibbles of your choice on the night.

And just in case u haven't realised...I am really, really, really grateful that I get to work with such a fab bunch of people...and that u all come of your own


This is a quick reminder of the timetable:

  • Monday: 7-8.30 - Intermediate Club (10s-13s)
  • Tuesday: 7-9 - (Creative Arts)
  • Wednesday: 6-7.30 - Junior Club (5s-9s) & 8pm - 9+ - (Duke of Edinburgh Award)
  • Thursday: 7.30-9.30 - Senior Club (14+s)
  • Friday: 11.30am-1.30 - (GG Complex Needs Group)
  • Saturday: 10am-12 -(East End Explorers)

If u wanna catch up with whats been going on in the summer follow the links.........

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Summer Club 2006 Part 6 - The End

Summer Club finished on a high...with a live broadcast of two radio shows by two groups of the young people...


John: Devised interview
Ainsley & Craig: Wrote script for presenters
Thomas & Craig: Presented show
Ricky: Planned news item & read news
Sarah: Interviewer
Josh: Planned/produced on paper
All: Devised jingles & Vox Pops


Keeley & Kelly: devised presenter script & presented show
Thomas: wrote & read the news
Sarah: Produced on paper & live show
All: devised jingles & Vox Pops

Both shows went out live and were recorded for posterity and for the people who couldn't be bothered to tune in (maybe we should have told people but then if it turned out to be rubbish there would be embarrassment instead of the jubilation which was felt...).

The shows had music, interviews, vox pops, jingles and news and views...all planned and delivered by the young people...There were jokes, bizarre references to Tracey Capman's gender, texts and emails from listeners and offers of marriage...

Bothe the one hour shows can be heard soon in the archive section of

Hilight of the day was when Ricky and Craig were listening to Thomas reading the news on the radio show and then enter the room they are in. Ricky looks at Thomas, then looks at the computer where Thomas is still speaking 'live' from the radio studio and looks back to Thomas who is listening to himself...Ricky hadn't been told about the the 30 second lag time which allows for this phenomena...when he is told Ricky is relieved...the world makes sense again.

Thanks to the guys at On the One for some great workshops and a great experience we hope to repeat.

Summer Club Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5

La le la, la le la la la...bippity boppity...i have a teapot on my head...and sunflowers in my ears...and a happy smile on my face...stop now turn back...don't do it...lemon drizzle hearts...i'm living on the edge of a marshmallow for some sugar particular a hammerhead shark made of jelly...and jelly fish made of jaffa cakes...and a giant peach in the sky like the sun while we row across the lake singing songs that we don't know and blue men wave while we rock the boat...and climb down the side of the pasta bake boat to swim in the lake...while it rained smoothies and custard and we arrived on paradise island which was a giant table tennis table and bowled using table tennis balls which knocked over the cups which hid the pom poms, is it here? no. Here? no. and under the shade of a rope and spaghetti bolognese tree we found the icecream slope taking us underground and around to start all over le la....

If u have bothered reading down this far...I'm sorry I'm all blogged out...I feel something like a chicken with sticky feathers in icecream...u no the feeling...

BOK!... BOK! BOK! - BOK! BOK!...BAAAAAHHHHHK! ....said the chicken to the tiramisu.

If u have read this far u have almost completed the finish enter in a comment the word the chicken said when she saw the banana split covered in vermicelli (sprinkles as we would call them or 100s & 1000s)


Monday, August 28, 2006

On Violence

Lyndsay and I meet periodically, probably twice a year and talk for eight to ten hours. Our conversations have been pivotal in my development as a person. Every time I come away with a new insight or fresh view on the world. This time was no exception.

During our many debates and arguments we talked about an ex-colleague of ours, Jim, who had worked in a Psychiatric Hospital. There were many tales to tell from this period in this person's life but there was one he never told - we only knew from another person who had been there...And it explained so much.

Jim was given a 'difficult' group of patients to work with. 'Difficult' had connotations of varying extremes of violence. After a period of time working with this group Jim reviewed his cases with another colleague. He shook his head. He didn't understand why the group had been labelled 'difficult'. He hadn't found them a problem. He hadn't found them 'difficult'. He hadn't found the violence which others had alluded to.

His colleague, smiled at him. 'Jim', she said, 'that's because you offered no violence.'

He 'offered no violence'.

In his demeanor, speech (content, tone or volume) or actions, he offered no violence.

This made complete sense to me. I thought of times on the front door of the youth centre when confrontations and aggression have been soaked up and dissipated to leave a blank canvas to begin relationships and that had been when we 'offered no violence'.

I thought about my interactions with the world and which times were best however difficult the situation, whether in an argument or playing games, and they were when I 'offered no violence'.

If you offer no violence there is...

none to be reacted to,
none to be used to defend against,
none to belittle or hurt, for someone to lash out against,
none to be frustrated by,
none to be mimicked/copied
none to be used as an excuse for inappropriate behaviour
none to be a reinforcement of violent behaviour
none to frighten or shock into 'fight or flight'
none to be learned...

How many of us 'offer no violence'?
Certainly not our countries, with our militaries and weapons.
What about ourselves?

"I offer you peace. I offer you love. I offer you
friendship. I see your beauty. I hear your need. I feel your feelings My wisdom
flows from the Highest Source. I salute that Source in you. Let us work together
for unity and love. "
Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Summer Club 2006 Part 5

Summer Club continued with another meeting with Katie from Trees for Cities. The session began with a game, like Monopoly except the object of the game was to plant trees.

Some of the reasons people give for not having trees were identified and ways to overcome such barriers were found.
Concerns with subsidence could be alleviated with the positioning of trees further away from buildings or the planting of smaller trees with smaller roots. This was also a useful solution to concerns about blocking views and sunlight.

The positive outcomes of having trees were discussed, some of them were the following:
  • they give oxygen
  • they are a necessary parr of the life of a tree-hugger
  • they give shade and shelter
  • they provide birds and animals with homes
  • they provide us and animals with fruit and nuts
  • they provide snogging X & X sittin in a tree K.i.S.S.I.N.G
  • they are great to climb
  • they provide us with a sustainable source of fuel/paper
  • they give us conkers and helicopters
  • they are pretty
  • they are related to Ents

After the game we went out to a nearby park to record the 'before' and make suggestions for the 'after'...including types of trees and shrubs, art work and other improvements to the area.

The project will continue into next year and will include our involvement in more planning, the promotion of and the running and participation in a Tree planting festival/party.

So then came a 3 day residential...camping.

Friday we met in the morning travelled to Hainault Country park, settled in and had lunch. Then we there were introductions to the staff & an overview of the programme and a tour of the site...

Then we gathered twigs, branches and great big logs for the campfire after dinner ....

...and toasted marshmallows and sang songs ...or at least the first lines or chorus of many half-remembered songs...accompanied by Will on the guitar and various percussionists, into the early hours of the morning.

...a perfect example of a toasted marshmallow... crunchy on the outside & soft in the middle - like an armadillo but tastier.

The 'penguin experience' was also shared by Emma with the group. It did not involve the flapping black and white bird kind but the chocolatey the bird variety would not a) enjoy being dunked in a hot drink and b) fit in the mug. For the penguin connoisseurs - here is a recap of the stages: first take diagonal bites at either end of the penguin (again the live penguin might not appreciate this), then dunk and sip through it like a chocolatey penguin straw which melts the inside bit in the biscuit and then turn over and eat. I have not yet mastered this skill. I may need to attend future master classes in the 'penguin experience' and may have to arm myself with a catering size pack of penguins...

...what I will do to improve my education knows no bounds!

Saturday raining, sunny then raining and sunny, began with sharing breakfast with an infestation of wasps followed by a series of games of cards to win the privilege of being the first to plunge into the freezing cold outdoor swimming pool.

Thomas won the privilege. He was thrilled.

He took no time at all to plunge into the pool.

At one point, because of the changeable weather, Thomas ended up, in full waterproofs, his cold starting to make a comeback, watching us from the side of the pool as we were swimming and playing piggy in the middle, in a hysterical fervour, in the rain...there is something about swimming in the rain...apart from the cold and wetness...there is something upsurd about watching someone in waterproofs on dry land while you are swimming in an outdoor pool in the rain playing piggy in the middle...upsurd but strangely appealing...I don't know why.

Keeley and me followed this with blackberry picking and the spotting of the 'wasp spider' - look and gasp! Everyone else did. They were all nonchalant, yeah they went, a wasp-spider, sure...whatever - then they saw the photo on my digital camera and the looks of horror were comical . Our theory on the wasp spider (the name we gave it) was that it was tryign to entice wasps into its web by pretending to be a wasp of the opposite sex...maybe I will Google it some day when I eventually finish this post.

Then came rounders...where I found out how fit I wasn't but how amazing our young volunteers are when they organised a game after ours so that the other younger group could play and made it so that they never got bored and that when they got out went to field for the other team. We played until dark. It reminded me of when I played as a kid in Ireland...we did the same and there was a mix like we had of ages and abilities except I was they youngest instead of oldest and back then I was the one who didn't have a clue and just ran.

Thomas was 'man of the match' and got a well deserved round of applause for his single handed endeavours to keep his diminishing team still in the game. Only he and one of the younger group were left batteing for his team. He had to get her and himself round while more than a dozen others were fielding against him - he ran his guts out and against the odds got an amazing 9 (tell me if I am wrong and i will change it) rounders...and nearly threw up in ther process...such was his commitment and willingness to go on and carry his team forward. It was a joy to see.

Cooking for 25 people was a challenge at times but dealt with very well by the young people as was the clearing up and wash up after...sometimes even Emma and I helped. The soya protein and tomato surprise wrap invention of Lucy and her kitchen crew went down well and this was followed by a night walk across fields (dung-dodging) and into the forest with hot drinks and chat again until late.

Sunday, after breakfast we had a Treasure Hunt won by Sarah and Keeley's team which was followed by our Ropes Challenge across a slimey algae ridden river using ropes, wire and tyres to cross aided by encouragement and teamwork.

The first warm-up challenge was a team challenge which we completed in record time...this was followed by the Maltese cross...where the challenge was to get across from one platform to another via two diagonal ropes crossed in the middle.

Next came the tyre challenge, on which I was offered the option crawl because of the disastrously awful ability to balance and my quickness to fall, not once, twice or three times but more than I care to count. The instructor was worried that I was about to bounce off the tyres and smack my head on the bank of the river. I was just worried that if I fell the wrong way I could get stuck in a tyre and have to be forced out of it in some unflattering way that involved St John's Ambulance and lots of vaseline on surgical gloves.

There were ways we should have crossed parts of the rope course which Jim always seemed to manage to accomplish, being part spider, but sometimes it was just a matter of finding any way that it was possible to cross without falling in to the pea-soup carpet.

Sarah shows here the correct way to cross the second tyre challenge while I show the incorrect, but only possible way for me to have crossed it without ending up in the soup. This involved the throwing of my body in the vague direction of a tyre and flailing in an attempt at grabbing the rope at the same time, then desperately wrapping my legs aroung the tyre to position myself astride it to sit and have a long rest before I went on to the next one and start all over again while the strength slowly went from my arms creating an expanding painful Popeye effect in my fore arms, a racing heart and ragged lungs and on top of all that 'Elvis leg' in both short -it hurt and I was rubbish but got there eventually.

We encouraged, coaxed, cheered and supported each other. There were even times when singing a song was the necessary ingredient. Craig got our best rendition of 'Show me the way to Amarillo' as well as 'Don't stop me now'...he got there in the end.

Emma, however, ended up in the soup...I will add afer a valiant effort both directions on the crossing and hung on til the end...and did manage to keep her hair dry... and to smile all the way!

After lunch and a shower, tent down, packed - we had one last penguin hot drink and said our goodbyes before heading home.

Thanks Lucy and Will...

(I know I have left stuff out and would be glad of any reminders...and will update asap...and probably should have written this better but its so long that if I continued I might begin to lose the will to sorry about the ramble...I suppose I could just have said - it was great and the young people were great and the weather didn't stop us!)

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Its Like Riding a Bike

Today has been like riding a bike figuratively and in reality.

First thing this morning I met up with Michelle who used to attend our club to begin the induction process so that she can become a volunteer at club...the cycle continues...just as it has with other young people who have gone on from attending club to volunteering.

Michelle then joined Heather (the artist) and myself and a merry band of other young volunteers called Happy, Sneezy, Dopey...sorry I mean Craig, Sarah, Thomas, Keeley and Josh to start work on the unfinished mosaic around Crisp St Market playgroundcle which first involved cleaning a year old layer of grout .

We were hard at it for a while getting encouraging comments from passersby, including an older man from my home town Cork in Ireland who thought I was a Kiwi (I presume not the fruit) and a woman who commented that if people like us didn't do it no-one would. There was the odd 'community service' jibe and lots of questions. Like the kid in the playground who asked what we were doing and came out of the playground to inspect our progress and declare his approval.

We could, however, possibly be still there had not a local man, a builder by trade, suggested a faster way of removing the layer of grout (which has initially been made specially to last between the tiles for 25 years and which should have been removed from the face of the tiles 2 months after application - over a year ago). This man not only gave us advice but also gave us buckets, scourers, cloths and white spirits. And as we began the second phase of work Laura joined us and we continued to reveal the designs under the grout with Emma W. arriving in time to finish up with us and share some cake.

Heather had had a nightmare with this project which should have finished a year ago with the lack of support from local schools who had committed to it and the loss of pannels of mosaic in storage, all beyond her control and a hindrance to progress. Heather's faith in community spirit was restored today - from the generosity of the young people with regard to the effort they put in and the time they gave, to the encouragement of the general community, to the help from individuals such as the builder and people like the community police which gave us some info on some free activities for the young people.

Its funny how good you can feel suddenly and not realise you weren't feeling so good until you have something to compare it to. I hadn't realised how much I needed to feel the community spirit I did until I did. It was like riding a bicycle ... it was easy because I knew how from before...I hadn't done it in a while but it was still felt good...and the mosaic looks good.

(Why I used the 'riding a bike' analogy is because for the first time in about a year I rode a bike...only because my bluff was called (that and I found the pump) and happened to see the three above on my travels alongside the you do)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Summer Club 2006 Part 4


A week rowing at London Regatta Centre began with two people who had rowed once, and five who had never rowed of whom was dreading even stepping foot on a boat.

Day 1...started with an introduction to rowing and the regatta centre. We trecked off site to try out some bell two canoes stuck together. They were a great introduction to the water. They were more stable than other boats and with ten people paddling we managed to do the triathalon route with a little bit of effort.

Day 2...We started on the rowing machines, then went into the water tank and then onto the water.

On the machines we looked at positioning of the body...
and raced on computer...
Craig won the 250m and Josh the pace setting.

In the training tank you got to feel how it was to use proper blades (oars) and what they felt like in water.

It felt different in water...things like lifting the blades out of the water without bashing your knuckles were a challenge.

...but then came the rowing...on open water...which moved and wasn't flat like in the tank...causing rocking of the boat which was unsettling while the uneveness of the water meant burying your blade, falling out of time or tangling blades were frequent events on the first day.

Day 3: Craig's Birthday & he announces the fact to all. Between training in the tank and on the water...there was Birthday Cake, peaches and party games & making a new friends like Bobby.

Day 4: The crew was coming together learning from Sam their coach, the most important lesson...timing. The crew had a practice race and came 3rd. Craig went out with another crew who was short a rower and got some pointers on his performance and came first in a practice race. And I went out then in Craig's place with our crew and found it very hard having had less training than the others...I wasn't a good Craig replacement - they did much better with Craig.

The goal was set to row together...and not come last in the regatta the next day.

Day 5: The Regatta. We got our Red T-shirts and places in the races.

Da Crew

The crew did their first official regatta race for the Reds.

It was nail biting. They got off to an uneven start but with focus on timing they steadily speeded up and kept a constant pace while Greens edging ahead one moment and the next inches behind and for seconds they were neck and neck until the greens lost it and the Reds pipped them to the post to win their first official regatta race and automatically get a place in the final.

I was shouting so much and was so excited that I didn't take a picture of them crossing the finish line...but you can imagine it. To help you I recreated the moment above.

They returned to us to the sound of applause and cheering...they had succeeded in their task...they rowed together and they didn't come last in the Regatta...they were now 4th out of about 20 crews from three different centres.

And although they weren't in the medals they were winners in all respects...

Starting from being afraid to even board the boat, not knowing how to board a boat, what the different parts are, what is needed in terms of safety or how to row individualy or as a group to being out on a boat all week, dealing with cuts and bruises, ups and downs and building a crew that is able to work together as a team to get to the final of a regatta.

I was proud of our crew.
The worked hard.
They never gave up.
(Even with bloody & bruised knuckles.)
And they conquered their fears.

On weeks like this I know why I became a youthworker...because of weeks like this and young people like these I continue.
Thank you Sarah, Keeley, Craig & Josh...and Rejoice & Emma for making my work a pleasure.

(PS if I have left stuff out that should be there...or if you have anything you would like to add let me know)
Summer Club Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

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Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.
Henry Ford

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.
Helen Keller

Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.
Ryunosuke Satoro

Row, row, row your boat,
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Protest Pictures 1

All kinds of people protest against war.

(At least three generations were involved in the rally above.)

People have different ways of expressing their views.

Whether they use flags with a message...

...symbols like the Peace Dove...

... Love Hearts...

...or Hands...

....costumes & drama..

....whether they are younger....

...or older...

...whatever the ethnic origin...

...wherever the protest...

All kinds of people protest against war.

Note: I took these photographs during 2003/2004 protests in London.

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Marching for Peace

Whenever there is an anti-war march in London I march. Sometimes I think there aren't enough marchs. Sometimes I think, like other people, 'What's the point?' Sometimes I think that its only a drop in the ocean of what I should be doing.

A third of the world is at war. That's 2 in every 3 of us who are very lucky and could appreciate that fact and do something about the other 1.

Saturday August the 5th more than 100,000 people including myself protested about some of the wars in the world.

Taking over the streets of London still has a powerful effect on me no matter how often I do it. The school walk-outs of 2003, in protest against the invasion of Iraq, were particularly inspiring because of the great youth presence which went against unwarranted media suggestions that this group was apathethic.

On Saturday I saw children's shoes piling up at the Cenotaph near Downing Street, in protest at the deaths of children in the conflict in the Lebanon.

What is the point? The same point that anyone made when marching to protest against an injustice whatever it is, whether relating to issues such as sufferage, civil rights, racism or poverty, the story is still the same.

Whatever the wrong, making people aware of its existence is the first step...after that comes possible political change...and then real change can happen.

Other people do other far greater deeds to change the world and make it a better, more peaceful place. However, great or small actions, even those as seemingly insignificant as a conversation about an issue can make a difference, all count towards making the world a better place. I march for peace, that's what I do.

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Scheduled outrage at 4:00PM.

Pick an outraged. See first 4PM Outrage post for details.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Summer Club 2006 Part 3

The end of the second week of Summer Club continued with Poplar Pirates (5-9s) in the mornings and Urban Escape (10+) in the afternoons and some evenings (Week 1 & start of Week 2: Part 1 & Part 2).

Juniors finished summer club with a visit by Poplar Pirates to Hawaii...which, it was discovered does not feature in many modern maps for some reason (a piece of island shaped blu-tac rectified this matter). The Poplar Pirates limbo-ed, made Hama bead designs and made fruit kebabs to take home. All loved the two weeks - the only thing they didn't enjoy was walking on trips (the modern automobile's fault, in my opinion)

The end of the second week of Urban Escape included another climbing session, Blue Man Group and a trip to the Snowdome in Tamworth...

Bokhila proved the old proverb that you shouldn't judge anything by just doing it once...(there isn't such a proverb or if there is I can't remember what it is and if not there should be) Bokhila hated climbing on the first session at Mile End Climbing Wall and hardly got off the ground, however on the second session despite the fact that she had planned not to join in, despite the fact that she had decided that she hated climbing and despite the fact that she had jeans that weren't suitable for climbing, she had a go and found that not only was it not as bad as the previous session but she got to the top of a couple of high routes and even enjoyed herself.

On our way to Blue Man Group we stopped off at Covent Garden for some of the free entertainment that the area is famous for - and we weren't disappointed. We were treated to a comedy act, featuring a 10 foot ladder, a unicycle, 6 juggling bats and a rubber glove.

Blue Man Group was a huge hit...even with Keeley who saw it for the third time...we won't give away the surprises but the pictures might tell some of the secrets. It was a show the whole family would enjoy...although if you sit at the front you will need a rain coat. The Blue Men signed autographs true Blue Man style - with blue paint finger prints.

At the Snowdome we tobogganed and skiied...on real snow! Rejoice won the 'Most Spectacular Fall' award, with Ainslie coming a close second. Loriamah won the Unintentionally Backward Skiing Award while Craig won the Toboganning & Skiing with One Lense in My Glasses Award and Sarah, the Toboganning Crash End Prize as well as the Skiing Upright & in the Right Direction in a Blizzard Award. Special Life-time Achievement Awards in Skiing go to Craig and Keeley who brought two new skiing manoeuvers to the ski slopes, the 'Frozen Chicken Slide' and the 'The Funky Chicken Groove', respectively.

And of course Gordon gets the 'We Couldn't Have Done it Without Him Award' for stepping in at the last minute to drive us to the Snowdome and to share with us hsi expertise in skiing (even when he found it difficult to do so having to constantly stop his borrowed salopettes from falling down).

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