Looking back on the past six months at Animate, I can see how many things I have accomplished which I never thought I would: from being so shy I wouldn't even speak to my own parents to now being able to get up on stage and speak to over 150 young people. There are even small things like trying many new types of food I’d never had before – including calamari, which I do not recommend!
These months have been quite challenging but also extremely enjoyable. Moving out of my small family home was always going to be tough as I didn't have many life skills but moving into Lowe House has enabled me to learn new skills, such as how to cook! Amid the various abilities I’ve been able to develop at Animate, being here has also allowed me to develop my faith. Although I was brought up in a Catholic household, I didn't really understand the impact that faith has on people's lives, nor had I much understanding of faith in general. When I was in high school, we didn't focus much on Christian values; we only looked at faith-based views on topical subjects.
Luckily, when I was in Year 10, I received the opportunity to go on pilgrimages to Taize and Lourdes, which gave me some understanding of what it's like to live out faith. Going on these pilgrimages gave me the courage to live out my own faith. This then brought me to Animate as I wanted to work with young people and help them develop their faith just as Animate, when visiting my school, had helped me to develop mine.
Spending time with youngsters in schools has opened my eyes to faith in different ways as it has allowed me to explore themes such as 'let your light shine' and 'reconciliation'. These are the two themes that have stood out to me most.
While working with pupils at St Mary's College in Crosby I led two workshops – one on how we can be reconciled with people all over the world, the other a discussion on whether we choose to look after ourselves or the greater good. Working with Haydock English Martyrs primary school had an impact on me too, as the children considered the theme of ‘letting their light shine’. One way we explored this theme was by competing in our very own ‘mini Olympics’ in which pupils had to decide who out of their group would be the best at completing the various challenges. This task was to show the importance of recognising other people’s gifts and talents and what they can bring to the community. It was great to see that our work made a mark and that the young people had taken something from the day.
Throughout Lent I am looking forward to challenging myself to try something new every day that will get me out of my comfort zone. Things that will enable me to continue to grow more, both in my faith and as a person, so that I am better able to help the youngsters that we work with.