Wednesday, 30 April 2008

The Importance of After School clubs and activities

This week in the news it has been reported that in the region of 500 schools are having their after school club budgets cut in Northern Ireland.

Now due to the financial situation of the UK and the changes in society with higher numbers of single parent families the importance and demand of these clubs is much higher. Many families cannot afford the rising cost of childcare and cannot afford to clock off work early and lose hours of paid work.

On top of this we have national rises in the level of youth related crime with many people and organisations crying out for better facilities for young people to keep them off the street. This is why I think it is a sad day when things like this happen and cutting their budgets is a very short sighted idea as the money saved by this could be lost in the rise of youth crime, the change in the financial situation of many homes and parents contributing less working hours in a week which through rising taxation pumps money back in to the government.

I think after school clubs can play a vital role in a child’s development and should be used by children regardless of if they did have someone at home who could look after them. After school clubs provide great learning environments for young people as it gives them freedom to learn more about what interests them in a less formal setting. These clubs also give young people chance to do their homework and catch up with work without all the noise and distractions they have at home so they can reduce a better high quality result or piece of work to hand in.

It’s not just on the education side that clubs help young people as there are also many sporting clubs which are great for helping keep our nation of young people healthy and save the NHS on time and resources. Sporting clubs also help young people with key things like team work. After school clubs also help broaden young peoples social skills and circle as they get to interact with people they may not be in classes with and form strong bonds with a good group of friends.

I think anything that keeps young people away from the TV and the video games whilst giving them a safe and controlled environment to develop and grow should be commended and not have their budgets taken away.

Adam Sibley
Founder of the Talented Young People organisation
"Envisage it, Believe it, Achieve it!"

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

What is Talent?

In the UK millions of people are getting caught up in the second series of Britain’s Got Talent. After a successful first series and after the concept being sold to TV networks across the globe the UK’s thirst for TV talent shows still remains. For those that don’t know anything about the show it’s a talent competition with the winner getting the chance to perform in front of royalty at The Royal Variety Show (wonder what winners in other countries win?)

The series has got me thinking and has been a subject of many conversations I have been having recently. The show brings up the question of what is talent? The show has no limits and is just about people performing in front of the judges which has meant we have seen some weird and wacky people and talents on display from people breaking things over other peoples bodies to people re-enacting theatre whilst using a bouncy castle as their stage.

The next question it raises is what level or standard do you have to be at something to be considered talented? Many people have claimed to be able to say what talent is and what standard you have to be at to be considered talented but I don’t think it’s that simple as talent is something very subjective.

I think it’s hard in a show like this to say who is the most talented as I think you can only say who is the best performer. Contestants only get a minute or so to perform one act to the judges in order to progress to the next round. With this set up I think it is possible for people who may not be so-called talented but who are able to perform brilliantly to give that illusion. It’s like someone may not be a great singer but can perfect one song which they have been working on for years and go in and impress the judges.

The show as well as showcasing the best of our country also promotes the worst side of our society by encouraging the live audience to boo off any act they don’t like. It’s like a pack, one starts jeering and they all join in getting some pleasure out of watching someone break down or go off stage. In this country people seem to be ridiculed for being different or standing out for actually having the guts to try something. I have got a lot of respect for anyone that goes on shows like this and gives it a go as it is not the easiest thing to do.

So going back to what is talent? To me talent is something that people dedicate themselves to and show that they can do better or different than other people and who are always improving and wanting to improve.

Have you got on opinion on what talent is? Then why not get involved in our topic of the week and give us your thoughts by going to:

Adam Sibley
Founder of the Talented Young People organisation
"Envisage it, Believe it, Achieve it!"

Tuesday, 15 April 2008


This week I wanted to talk about being an underdog. If you are a football fan you will be very aware of underdogs as this season it has been the year for the underdog with many lower league teams beating Premiership opposition to make the later stages of the FA Cup. In my opinion the greatest underdog achievement though came last weekend as my team Queen of the South from the Scottish First Division made history by reaching their first ever cup final by beating Aberdeen 4 – 3 in a thrilling semi.

An underdog is someone or a team that people don’t think will win or succeed against their opposition. It’s not just in sport where you get underdogs but in everyday life. It’s like when some young people are written off from achieving anything because of their background or the area they live in, they then become underdogs to achieve as few people believe in them.

Being an underdog isn’t necessarily a bad thing as when you are an underdog nobody expects you to win so you don’t have their added pressure on your shoulders. You can go out and do what you want to do in your own style or way. The only time when being an underdog is bad is when you start believing what everyone else thinks and start believing that because you are the underdog you can’t win or achieve.

Being an underdog just means you need to try harder than the rest and always do everything with 110% effort. That to me is why being an underdog at times is so great as in that position you know you have to give it your all where as people who are so called favourites or likely to succeed don’t always have that same drive or concentration as they think you will be easy to beat.

The greatest achievements in life are those that were hard to achieve and required real effort. When an underdog wins it means more to them than a favourite as they had to work harder and in the process shown people just what they are capable of. The minute we start thinking we are going to win everything and achieve in everything is the moment we will probably fail as you can never take success for granted.

Never be put off by the underdog tag as it’s not what others think of you that counts it’s your belief in your ability that does. If you are labelled an underdog use it to your advantage, use it to give you drive to succeed and let your opponents think like that as it will make them easier to beat.

Adam Sibley
Founder of the Talented Young People organisation
"Envisage it, Believe it, Achieve it!"

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Career Advice!

The BBC news website reported two news stories on the subject of career advice and chosen careers which got me thinking:

Now I can’t say I am shocked by these findings as I have thought this for some time and it’s quite funny how these stories which are so related came out in the same week. I believe that career advice has been inadequate for some time and big changes need to be made if we are going to get young people in to the right careers and get unemployment levels down.

The education system seems to have a one size fits all approach with students forced to become jack of all trades and master of none in a race to look good in the school league tables. The only thing schools get graded on are exam grades and not what careers their students go in to so the only thing they are interested in is there results. Until schools get graded or rewarded based on what careers their students go in to they aren’t going to invest time in proper career advice and nor should they have to if they aren’t getting the right reward for it.

Employers are looking for young people who are highly skilled and educated in specific areas not people who are moderately skilled in many areas. Young people aren’t informed about this at school though or told enough about what qualifications you need for certain jobs. This is the information young people need to be equipped with to get ahead in the market place but the school system keeps them in the dark with the blinkers on in order to make sure they try their best at all subjects so they can get highest league table place possible. If young people were armed with this information they probably wouldn’t try as hard at the subjects they didn’t need but improve vastly in the areas that were linked to their career choice.

Yes young people need to be able to be flexible and adapt in this ever changing world so need as many skills as possible but they also need to have strong skills in the areas they want to work in. The other information young people need is to be told how much certain jobs pay and how accessible these jobs are in the local area as it may be a young person is investing time getting ready for an occupation which may not pay enough to support them or may not be available locally. Young people need to be made more aware of the work place and schools need to devote time to career studies on a regular basis. Every pupil at school should have to go to career advice mandatory and career advice shouldn’t be something that is optional and hidden away.

Adam Sibley
Founder of the Talented Young People organisation
"Envisage it, Believe it, Achieve it!"

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

I'd Do Anything!

I’d Do Anything is a line normally used by people who want to get something or achieve something but I am not talking about that in this weeks blog. Of course I am referring to it as the line from Oliver and the title of the new BBC Saturday night talent search programme which if you live in the UK you will have probably heard something about or seen some of the shows.

The series is Andrew Lloyd Webber’s third attempt to find a star of his latest musical production after two successful runs finding talent for The Sound of Music and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat. This time he is looking for people to fill the two roles of Oliver and Nancy in Oliver The Musical. This series is different to previous years as they are looking to fill two roles instead of one but the big twist this year is that the competition for the first time has been opened up to children in order to fill the role of Oliver.

Last year X-Factor lowered their minimum age to 14 to audition and now with this series it raises the question of should young children be allowed to participate in TV talent programmes? I know this isn’t the first time children have been allowed on talent shows as many years ago it was common place on shows like New Faces and Opportunity Knocks as well as the American Star Search.

Talent shows use to have much higher viewing ratings back in the early days of this programme genre but many of these episodes featuring young people have been forgotten, lost or not easily accessible. This isn’t the case any more as although these type of shows are viewed by less people they can now be posted on sites like YouTube for people to watch, comment on and save for years to come. Add to this the celebrity / paparazzi culture we live in with thousands of news reports happening around the globe on just one episode of a TV show adds to the crazy amount of pressure put on the young people featuring in these programmes.

The bosses in charge of I’d Do Anything have made the step to not have the young aspiring Oliver’s up for a weekly public vote and for their fate to rest solely with the judges. Now I’m all for young people being given the chance to display their talents and get recognition for their achievements but this shouldn’t be done in a situation which puts young people at the risk of happenings that hinder their progress or development towards their full potential.

On the flip side I do believe that young people need to be challenged and learn how to deal with pressurised situations, I am not in favour of a world where there is no competition. So in my personal opinion I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer to the question of whether young people should be allowed on TV talent shows. I think decisions on whether young people or a young person should be allowed to go on a TV talent done on a case by case basis with the young persons needs put first and not the needs of a TV show that needs to get ratings.

What are your thoughts on this issue? Do you agree with young people being scrutinised by judges and the public in TV talent contests? Should there be a minimum age limit? Let us know you thoughts by joining in our topic of the week by going to:

Adam Sibley
Founder of the Talented Young People organisation
"Envisage it, Believe it, Achieve it!"