Youth Horizons was founded in 1987 by three people involved in the community of West Tallaght: the late Dr Kate Ganter (Child and adolescent psychiatrist with the Lucena Clinic), Fr Denis O’ Connor CSSR (medical doctor and curate in St Thomas Parish, Jobstown) and Sr Mairead Hughes SSL (Teacher and chaplain at Jobstown Community College).
Youth Horizons came into being to address the absence of facilities at the time for the many young people of the area. West Tallaght was a rather bleak place in the 80s. Many talented young people had no facilities for homework or study or for learning new skills.
Spearheaded by Kate and Declan Ganter a very successful Golf Classic was held in Newlands Golf Club and again on the following years. With the proceeds of these annual Golf Classics we were able to purchase two vandalised but new houses in Sundale Road. They were renovated with the help of local businesses and local volunteers. From the beginning we wanted our centre to be a warm and welcoming place where nourishment of mind and body would take place.
We provided homework and study skills, music and drama classes, cookery, chess and peer tutoring. There was always a warm and welcoming atmosphere . Young people were encouraged to come and go quietly as it is situated in a residential area.
Some films were produced arising from the skills taught by Vinny Murphy in the drama and film classes. Some students went on to find careers in stage and screen. Music has always been important in Youth horizons. Many sounds emanated from the centre.
During the nineties while evening activities continued there was a thriving morning school three days per week. There was a high standard of tuition in cookery, bread making, art , crafts particularly needle –craft and creative writing. The main inspiration for these classes was Eithne Downey. Some of these young adults went on to further education Their self-confidence was enhanced in these classes and in the mutual support to be found in the centre.
Towards the end of the nineties the demand for these classes lessened due to rising employment opportunities
The greatest need by the year 1999 was to address the increasing problem of early school leaving. Many young people were not coping with the conventional educational system for many and varied reasons. Mairéad Hughes took a career break from her teaching job to help these young people in Youth Horizons. All of the young people were anxious to gain certification . Initially we had a group preparing for Junior Cert. This work was initiated by a request from Foróige who were running a youth diversionary programme. Individuals came to prepare for a Leaving Cert. Gradually the demand for the Leaving Cert course increased so because of demand we concentrated on that.We gained recognition from Co Dublin VEC in 1992 as an “Institute in Co-operation “ We have evolved to be providing a two-year course in seven subjects to students many of whom go on to Third Level or PLC courses. We provide counselling and career guidance as well as life skills and computer classes. We are also available to the many who return for many years looking for help and advice.
In 2003 we built on an imaginative extension to include an attractive crèche. The crèche and pre-school has gone on from strength to strength and gives a great start in life to the children of our students and of the local community.On April 1st 2014 the new part of the centre was officially opened by President Mary Mc Aleese.
Today we have 25 students enrolled ,11 for Leaving Cert in 2016 and the rest preparing for 2017.In addition we run a course leading to a qualification in Childcare. There are 16 participants following this course which leads to a FETAC level 6. There is a chess club and a choir on two evenings also.We also have a policy of working in partnership with other agencies. We are also fortunate to be partners in St Thomas CE scheme. We take great care to develope the participants and help them to gain fulfilling careers. We are also fortunate to have a wonderful Board of Management who maintain a keen and active interest in our work.
Our wish for the future is to restore our music school and develop our after-care programme. We hope to maintain our warm and welcoming atmosphere in our centre.We hope to develop our fundraising capacity to achieve these goals.