The Rock is a youth drop in centre in the heart of Kilkenny where teens can come to hang out in a safe place, build relationships with other teens and adult volunteers, and find acceptance, belonging, hope, and support. Activities provided include ball games, big screen Wii, table games and tuck shop, but a lot of teens come to just hang out…and that’s ok, because ‘The Rock’ is all about personal relationships!
Events may include movie nights, game nights, theme nights, battle of the bands, dress up, discussion nights, etc. The Rock is not just contained within the walls of the building it is run in. Often, the teens of the Rock will be found hanging in town and having conversations in the local cafes. The relationships formed between teens are the driving and sustaining force behind ‘The Rock’. For those who want to dig deeper into spiritual things, a regular bible study and discussion is available – but no pressure! Those professing Christian faith are encouraged to get involved in their own churches.
In 2006 the group worked with Operation Mobilisation to host a group of teens from Cornerstone Christian Church in New Jersey to create a youth drop in centre named “The Rock” in Kilkenny. Nobody knew quite what to expect, but after two weeks the results were clear – Irish teens loved “The Rock”. The drop in centre was so well received that Cornerstone decided to send a summer team for several years following, and from that base a small local work was started.
A number of similar projects around the country were explored and some of the best ideas taken on board. Further research in five secondary schools in Kilkenny showed not only what kids do, but also what they would like to do. Over 70% indicated that they would like a safe place to hang out.
A more regular “drop-in” has developed over the last number of years, run by local Kilkenny people. It has been a delight to see teenagers mature and grow into leadership, so that now a teen committee does much of the organising and planning. A huge boost to the work with young people was the arrival of volunteer Tim, our first full-time Youth Worker, to train and teach young leaders and to provide drive and focus. We have been privileged to have more good leaders since: a series of keen student leaders as interns, Youth Workers Conor, Kaddl, Jesse and Kellen.
A youth drop in centre is well established and is run weekly in Kilkenny, with a youth cafe running after school during the week. Summer work over the last few years has reached other parts of Ireland too, with our American friends working with local support to apply a similar model of yout drop-ins in other parts of the South East.