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Jemma Dougherty, Marketing Executive at NIBC Ltd & Corcra Communication

I have a few, but standing up in front of a class of clever, clued-in P6 children is definitely something that pushes the boundaries of my comfort zone to its limits!

I thought my path was planned out for me; my destination set in stone but at almost 32 life has decided to through me a curve ball and turned my life upside down. Initially it scared me half to death but as time has passed I have decided to make it a positive change and have reassessed my path and the decisions I have been making both personally & professionally. I have a second chance and I intend to make the most of it (starting slowly, with baby steps!).

Step 1

In a bid to improve my own skills and confidence as well as company community relations, and promote education & business to children in Belfast I have signed up to volunteer with Young Enterprise. I will be delivering their Business Beginnings Programme which is designed to raise awareness of business opportunities, increase confidence and encourage team work with its young people.

Over the years I have worked on projects that deliver lessons, helping out with the delivery and even putting lessons together, but I have never actually been the one delivering solo to a group!

I have my own little mini person so I know they can be difficult customers – especially 22 of them in one room so to say I’m nervous is an understatement. Although having met them briefly a few days ago they seem to be a great bunch!

I will report back after my first session – until then I will attempting to remain cool, calm and collected on the outside while wanting to run away to a peaceful, child-free tropical beach on the inside!

My Step 2

Look at the positives.

In an attempt to change my way of thinking I am encouraging myself to look at the positives in every situation.  As life has unexpectedly changed its direction for me, I am taking my weed and turning it into a wish! I will use my wish to pick a new path for myself and my family.

I know that path wont become clear overnight, but its a positive step in the right direction!

Looking at my time with Young Enterprise I have identified many positives to come out of what has been a relatively short time:

  • 3 sessions of me sharing my business knowledge to impressionable young people and hopefully inspiring their imagination & goals;
  • 3 sessions of those kids growing in knowledge and excitement as their plans evolve;
  • 3 sessions of my confidence and belief in my own abilities growing;
  • 3 sessions of giving back to the local community;

and ultimately:

  • 3 sessions of great fun!

However, I am sure there are a number of young people my the group that don’t see the opportunities that lie ahead of them, they see hurdles and obstacles and maybe don’t value the fight to reach their potential as much as they should. I can see this project giving the young people inspiration and helping them to strive for more in life by showing them that obstacles can be overcome.

For me, I’ve realised that looking at situations or decisions from a different perspective can be difficult when you are blinded by the problems or obstacles in your way – but if you can manage to overcome these you will find many positives just waiting for you to enjoy! #nevergiveup #lifeiswaitingtobelived #makingpositivechanges

After spending 6 amazing week with the talented young people of P6 in St Josephs Primary School I have now had time to reflect on the experience, realise what I learnt and how I can use it to take my next step.

The one thing that stands out most for me is realising that it really is the little things that count the most.  Whether it is:

  • Taking time to inspire people;
  • Using your experiences to motivate people;
  • Respecting peoples differences;
  • Making people feel worthy of your time and attention;
  • Smiling – its contagious,

These things don’t cost a penny, only a little time and they can make a huge difference to someone else’s day (as well as your own). And this is true no matter what the situation. Whether it is volunteering, working, in a relationship or just when encountering a total stranger!

I really did learn so much about myself as a person and my abilities and came to value the opportunity to be in the privileged position of helping young people.

Volunteering is good for the soul!

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