The RYANI Youth Forum group, which is being piloted for one year, has been formed as part of an initiative to empower young people, encouraging them to participate actively in society.
With 18 members registered, it is the first time that the initiative has been set up within the RYA regions.
The group are also being given the chance to improve their own lives by highlighting their needs and interests, as well putting forward their views to the governing body.
RYANI chair Jackie Patton said: “At RYANI we hope that this group will, as individuals, return to their clubs as ambassadors for their sport, perhaps even set up youth committees. Already, there are a few clubs across NI that are very successful with this model.”
Earlier this year, young people and adults were consulted on the idea of a youth forum.
“It was clear that there is a desire for a new approach to youth development within RYANI as an organisation,” said Patton. “The intention being that this will enhance what is currently on offer and not a disruption to any other programme.”
To help with the smooth running of the initiative, RYANI has partnered with the NI Youth Forum. A professional youth work team has been engaged which will provide input and support.
At the first session, which took place on 30 October at Sketrick House in Newtownards, 12 young people met to create terms of reference, discuss programme content, schedules and communications.
Through the Youth Forum, participants will be able to avail of fun activities, extended boating experiences, residentials and valuable links with other youth organisations.
Patton added: “We believe as an organisation that young people have an important role to play, they can be part of the solution and must be listened to.
“The Youth Forum has been created as a platform to facilitate them. The timing is perfect, as we look towards the creation of a new RYANI Strategy.”
In other news, nominations are now open for the new RYA Regional Youth Awards which recognise outstanding dedication, achievement and performance on the racecourse.
Launched in 2014 as the RYA Regional Youth Champion Awards, the rebranded Youth Awards “will also celebrate achievements within the sport including volunteering and overcoming adversity”.
All regional winners will be invited to take part in a “once in a lifetime” sailing experience with the British Sailing Team.
Along with their families, winners will also be invited to the RYA Dinghy Show for the official awards ceremony on 1 March 2020.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for clubs, class associations and individuals to reward the young people who are really making an impact in boating, whether it’s though performance, volunteering, instructing, coaching or adventure,” said RYA programmes manager Michelle Gent.
Nominations are open until Monday 6 January 2020. Those nominated must have been under 19 years of age on 31 December 2019. Each of the RYA’s regional committees will select a regional winner from nominations received.