An introduction to my dissertation research…
A dissertation for any University student, marks the beginning of the end, this was it, the submission that would see me qualify! Three years of building my knowledge and development, all down to this. And to be able to write 10,000 words about one topic and for it to have such importance in my degree, you could argue, it is one of the most important pieces of literature I would ever write! I knew this ‘one topic’ had to be something that sparked a great passion in me. Something which drove me, inspired me, but also made me think. Something which made me ask questions.
Questions which I wanted to find the answers to.
Being a dancer, who has since gone onto deliver dance activities within youth work settings and has shaped her whole career around such provisions… in my mind, my question(s) were clear.
How much of an impact was my work really having on those I worked with? And in what way?
That is how… ‘A study which investigates the impact of delivering dance through youth work programmes’ came along. As a young youth worker, now 21, who came into the industry at 16, I know I am still very much in the learning stage, but arguably aren’t we all? Isn’t there more we can all learn about ourselves? About our profession, our purpose? Shouldn’t we all be taking the time to question the true impact that we are making to those around us?
Which is why I chose to dedicate my research to exactly that;
My aims were simple.
-To provide young people with a voice, to be listened to and have their ideas valued
-To build my own knowledge and understanding of the needs of the young people I work with, within youth work provisions
-To evaluate the impact of the work being delivered through dance provisions in youth work settings and to provide a finalised document at the end of the study, which can contribute to the growth and development of these provisions, (including young people’s recommendations into future programmes and business plans).
As a professional, I could go on about what I think I do, even what I hope I do, and the impact and difference I imagine my work to be making, but who am I to say anything? What proof do I really have?
As stated in the Principles and Purposes of Youth Work In Wales (2018), It’s the young people whose voices should be heard. It’s them who speak the most volume in this department. It’s their lives. Their views. Their needs. Without them, would any of us be here at all? As a newly qualified youth worker, I have had, values and principles drilled into my brain for three years, therefore I hold young people at the core of all my actions, so for that reason, they were my key source.
Forget the journals, and abstracts… of course they all played a part, but my main research came from the individuals themselves.
As I said, I think I know, what I do…. We all think we know, but how can we…. without asking those on the receiving end.
So I left it to them. They were in charge.
Whatever they gave me is what I worked with. For so long I had been teaching them, well now it was a role reversal. They were teaching me.
Teaching me the true impact of being involved in a dance class….
“I make friends easier”
“It’s one of the best things I’ve done…. Being part of the team”
“My confidence has grown”
“It’s helped with my fitness and health a lot”
“It’s helped me build my social skills”
“It’s a family…”
If you ask my friends my job role, they’ll say “Oh she’s a youth worker, a tutor in a dance class”, and caught off guard, I may respond the same, but through this research, I was reminded that my purpose lies deeper than just “a youth worker”, the lessons I’ve taught, is more than just a 5,6,7,8 count… more than any song or lyric played through a speaker. The effect of our work ripples further than any single movement we teach…. It’s about more than that.
We are about more than that.
and this is more than just a dance class.
For more information around youth work; including policy and procedure… Please see the reading list below for recommended literature sources;
- Youth Work National Occupational Standards Introduction; http://www.nya.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/National-Occupation-Standards-for-Youth-Work.pdf
- Youth Work Strategy For Wales; https://gov.wales/sites/default/files/publications/2019-06/youth-work-strategy-for-wales.pdf
- The Art Of Youth Work; Kerry Young (1999)
- Delivering Good Youth Work; Gina Ingram, Jean Harris, and Maḥmūd Ḥassān