Our latest feature on OUR STORIES turns the spotlight on an ambitious and inspirational charity which creates positive chances in a place where it can be difficult to grow up. We said from the start that we are not pretending that life is rosy for everyone in the valleys but we will never take cheap shots at the place like our new mates at MTV.
Valleys Kids began life in 1977 as the Penygraig Community Project. The Project started in a whitewashed coal cellar in the basement of the then Probation Office. Work with young people developed with the creation of an “Open Door’ youth club targeting disaffected teenagers.
Since then Valleys Kids has grown alongside the people it supports, developing into a community regeneration charity. This has now extended to offering support and activities from four ‘Community and Family Hubs’ across Rhondda Cynon Taff.
Making a Difference
In their own words Valleys Kids tell us: ‘there is no hiding from it; the South Wales Valleys are one of the poorest areas in the UK.’ Many people live in poverty which has led, in too many cases, to a loss of hope and ambition for young people. Through providing opportunities and activities, the charity’s aim is to enable young people to grow and develop, to have high expectations and to achieve their potential.
A brilliant aim which we want to support in any way possible!
With drama and rapping opportunities hitting the headlines most recently, Valleys Kids also offers activities ranging from work in play, youth work and youth theatre using creative media, to computer training, Tai Chi and art classes.
The project also helps to improve work readiness through encouraging team working, peer-to-peer mentoring, support and presenting work within non-formal presentation styles. People taking part get the chance to pick up employability skills such as good timekeeping and regular attendance, and learn to critique each other’s work in a supported way, helping to boost their confidence and enabling all involved to finally feel empowered.
The results of this work speak for themselves. Last month BBC Wales aired Torchbearers which saw Valleys Kids team up with young people from South Africa to create a drama at the Millennium Centre (yes, in Cardiff) as part of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad. The show was a massive success and the young people involved were fantastic ambassadors who went on to reproduce the show in South Africa. We are dead proud of what they’ve achieved. What better antidote is there to the patronising and arrogant nonsense blurted out by MTV producers?
Here is a video of Wales legend, Alun Wyn Jones promoting Torchbearers - you can also see Rhod Gilbert doing likewise on Valleys Kids’ YouTube feed.
Valleys Kids’ work goes even further and reaches older people; with one women suffering from mental health problems explaining “I lose myself and my worries” when taking part. A local man who had been made redundant also says “it is the reason I get up in the morning, the only time I commit to leaving the house.”
There is simply too much to cram into this one story so go to www.valleyskids.org for more info including the work that now goes on at the Factory Porth, an iconic building now owned by Valleys Kids.
We have only scratched the surface of a story that shows exactly why the Valleys Are Here exists. Valleys Kids do the hard yards that lead to making a difference. They are not impressed by tired stereotypes and neither are we. MTV insist on talking down to the place and have played on the problems it faces in a pretty shameful way.
Just like the other people and places we’re featuring on this site (and in the upcoming film!), Valleys Kids will go on long after MTV have packed up.
With all this and more happening, we think it’s about time MTV showed the place some respect. If you agree get sharing this story on Twitter, Facebook, email, post, pigeon, over the phone or print it on a T shirt – whichever you fancy.