YEPS Christmas Trip: A YEO’s Tale by Tracey Webster

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Winter Wonderland/Ice skating after school activity…
(Or the importance of a plan B)

Cardiff’s Winter Wonderland has always been a popular venue for young people to attend. They seem to adore the cold, jingling bells, rides involving heights and spinning rapidly around or various other movements that would inspire vertigo and nausea in adults.

Ah, the joys of being young, with seemingly superhuman immunities to:

  1. Danger
  2. The cold
  3. Heights

A quick consultation regarding an ice skating activity with young people who attended drop in during school one lunch break (whether they liked it or not!) was run towards the end of October. Chaos resulted, with arguments breaking out about choosing between Winter Wonderland and Ice Arena Wales as the last afterschool activity to be run in 2016.

Usually, the group is a (relatively) mild-mannered bunch, albeit noisy and often unpredictable, which simply adds to the…charm of running drop in sessions. They enjoy a laugh (or several) and are quick to speak their minds. Drop in sessions are usually a noisy affair, with Tracey being the loudest with numbers ranging from 1-7…although 15 have fitted quite comfortably in the cabin, albeit with some minor squeezing around the third table, and with at least one sitting under it. Outsiders would call it mayhem. Tracey prefers organised chaos. (The only time there is relative quiet is when the young people are munching on their lunch.)

The tally chart was actually defaced with a large smiley face taking most of the page, and with arrows pointing from it towards the winter wonderland heading. Subtle. No young person came forward to admit to this heinous crime, despite the smirking. Taking a hint, and with much sighing and eye-rolling, Tracey simply decided to run both activities, with one before Christmas, and the other during February half term 2017, thus ending the ice skating war.

Then, quite unexpectedly, YEPS announced that a Winter Wonderland activity would be run centrally, with each secondary school taking part in RCT. After much paper printing, paper shuffling and phone calls to parents, the activity was organised, the young people were excited, and everything was in place. So far, so good.

Then the unexpected happened, causing Tracey to squint and even stick out her tongue as she looked at an odd angle at the email that came through on the morning of the activity.

Winter Wonderland cancelled the activity. Just like that.

Several sighs and head scratches later, Tracey wondered how this had happened. The young people would be very disappointed at the news. It quickly became very clear that a Plan B had to emerge.

Tracey did not want to think of the hard work, stress, and dedication that other staff portrayed to make sure that the young people still went ice skating. Plan Bs are usually thought out in advance, just in case plan A dies a death of some description. This plan B was brought together in a matter of hours.

The YEPS staff did the best that they could, given the time constraints. The young people would go ice skating, just as Cinderella would go to the ball! The admin team spent hours contacting parents to inform them of the venue changes until their voices went hoarse.

Taf area schools would go to Winter Wonderland for an hour before going to the new Cardiff Devils ice rink for an hour of ice skating. The areas of Rhondda and Cynon would not be able to go to Winter Wonderland due to journey times, but they would go Ice Skating an hour after the TAF lot. Ice skating times were staggered to prevent 450 (ish) young people congregating on the ice rink at once. That amount would make any provider go a funny colour.

 

 

It was beautifully chaotic. The ice rink in the new stadium was still open to the public. Bags, staff, and young people were everywhere. Did the young people enjoy it? Here are the answers from some young people from Tracey’s group:

“It was awesome” – Amy, 14

“It was good”- Shaun, 14

“It was fun”- Nicola, 13

“Even though there was a change in venue, the Devils rink was much better”- William, 12

A young person who wanted to remain nameless told Tracey that “Everyone did pretty well [on the ice] and only two people bought penguins that I know of. It was not fair that winter Wonderland cancelled on us at the last minute, but there was an alternative plan, thanks to the hard working YEPS staff. Without them, we would not have had the opportunity to have gone ice skating. Thank you.“

So there you have it…the importance of a plan B! A YEO’s tale by Tracey Webster.

 

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