Grit Plus Selection Day

I got asked a few weeks ago if i would like to be put forward for something run by
Opportunity youth
Which is an organisation for young people. Or rather, i was told i had been put forward for it by the manager of guide dogs. All i got given were the dates of the residential and the selection day for it. So i was a bit annoyed to be honest. I was even more annoyed when i found out what the
Grit plus”
Which is the project doing the residential. When i looked it up i saw that it was for people who had drug and alcohol addictions and that kind of thing. And it was in a hostel. That immidiately sent alarm bells ringing. Why was i being sent on such a thing? Were they users? Was i putting myself in to a vulnerable position? Would i be left out? Would the girls have other issues? etc etc. So i decided to email and see exactly what the craic was. After a few emails they met with me last wednesday to discuss my concerns.

They told me that the girls were on drugs and alcohol at one point and that they did work with young offenders. They said that there would be no drinking at all in the program. In fact that wouldn’t be tollerated. That immediatly put my mind at rest. They told me that me and Ushi would be in a room of our own and that there was grass and that where we were staying. They also told us that there would be plenty of staff about should i become concerned about anything. I didn’t get the impression that it was a bums on seats job which was good as that can sometimes happen with some organisations. I thought the fact that they met with me was a good thing.

Today was the selection day to see who went on the residential. Me and Ushi arrived at the europa bus station bright and early at 9 o’clock for one of the youth workers to collect me. We were going to meet the bus somewhere but we decided to just drive there straight away since it was so busy with the schools starting back and that kind of thing. We were heading to the belfast activity centre.

There were 20 girls all together. About 12 came from Derry direction. There were some rules about the day explained first and i told them that ushi couldn’t have any human food and why she couldn’t before we carried on. We filled out a couple of medical forms before we got given our caving gear. The belfast activity centre has its’ own artificial caving system. So we all got in to wellies, big overalls that covered our trousers and knee pads. Before we did that though we had to play some team building games. We had to do one where you had to be in a circle with your hands joined. You then had to pass a hoop from one end to the other without breaking the circle. We also had to do one game where two volunteers went up and one was blind folded and had to follow the sound of clapping from the other person to tag and stuff. So me and one of the leaders clapped too to confuse the person being blind fold at one point lol.

Before we went in to the cave we had to climb over this big boulder thing. We had to all use team work as we had to help each other over it. So someone had to boost me up and then we had to slide off it. We then played this game called Maidons, knights and horses. If you were a knight you had to get on to someone’s back and hang there, if you were a horse you sat on someones back and a maidon you sat on someone’s knee. You had to do it in the fastist time. After that we were able to go in.

I kind of knew what to expect because i’d been in a cave before well only that one a few years ago mind, but still. There was a bit where you had to crawl over boulders. Some of them were quite high and narrow too so it was kind of hard to get up on to them. There was another part called that Smartie tube and it was very narrow and there was a massive drop down to the floor. So it was a bit scary. But everything else was good. After that it was time for lunch of Pizza.

After lunch we were climbing. We started off one one thing which was these logs that were horrizontal. You had to climb up them and put your feet on these tiney foot poles. You then had to climb up a cargo net and these tires. You then had to get up on to this final log. It didn’t help that it swung too. So it was a bit scary. One of the instructors was joking and saying “Have you ever met anet?” when you got to the nets lol. You then sat back in your harness and were lowered down with a belay system. I always get nervous with that in case someone lets go of the rope on the ground lol. Thankfully one of the instructors came up with me which was brilliant.

Next we went up the steps of this tower. We then knelt down and abseiled down it. That was quite easy. The final one we had to go up the steps of the same tower and do what was called a Fan assend. This was where like all of them you were attached to a harness and then you had to step off a platform and you were again lowered. I asked for a push as i knew i wouldn’t jump forward as i find that really hard doing that for some reason.

At the end we had to stand in a line where there were three cuddley toys. We had to describe what we thought before during and after the activity. So there was a clanger which was brilliant, a little miss toy which was somewhere in the middle, and another toy which was at the end.

We were all then selected to go on Monday which was cool. We will all get a call tomorrow asking if we wawnt to go on the residential and then we will all head off to Ballontoy for 5 days.

I still wasn’t too keen to go this morning as i wasn’t sure if Ushi would benifit or what i would do with her, but she had a blast. One of the staff took her while i did the activities. She was given a big bucket of water too. And it was litterally a bucket. Apparently on the residential there will be walks and that we’ll do too which is brilliant. I was beginning to think that i was only taking her to benifit me but that she would be bored.

I’m glad i’ve decided to go as it’s something different and the girls are really nice who i talked to. They just accepted me for who i am.

It’s a good job though that i used my initiative and found out what it was all about because otherwise i wouldn’t have gone at all.