Earlier this month myself and several other representatives from the college attended the ‘Actions Speak Louder Than Words’ conference in the Burberry Factory in Treorchy.  The Alice in Wonderland themed event involved the community sharing their thoughts and opinions on their communities and discussing possible ways to improve their communities.

I was also given the opportunity to accompany a group of students studying photojournalism at the University of South Wales.  I joined them in photographing the event.

The day started with some questions about how we generally felt about the services we currently use and how they could be improved. During this we heard the views from all age groups and different communities. This then lead onto several presentations on the topic.  It was interesting to hear different opinions from different generations of people as it allowed me to consider the greater issues our community is currently facing.

Shortly after the presentations, we were divided into groups according to the Alice in Wonderland character badges we collected when we arrived. I was placed in The Mad Hatter’s group (lead by our very own Youth Empowerment Officer, Mark Eades-Jones dressed as The Mad Hatter himself) along with Miss Tatum Richards, Julie Atkins, several other members of the community project in sixth form and people from a number of different communities. In these groups we engaged in a number or team building exercises and discussions. One exercise involved getting to know each other through bingo, where we had to collect information from different members of the group in order to achieve ‘bingo’.  Following this activity, we went into detail of more or less the same questions asked in the presentations. This gave everyone an opportunity to voice his or her opinion.  The number of problems occurring in different communities that I was unaware of was shocking. I was also amazed to hear the solutions people had come up with to solve these problems. For example, the closing down of The Muni in Pontypridd was mentioned on more than one occasion and there was more than one solution offered.

All the team building and group discussing really worked up an appetite among the attendees and so lunch was served. We were presented with a themed buffet made by lovely members of the community.  From butterfly shaped sandwiches, to fruity teapots, ‘eat me’ cupcakes and rainbow popcorn, everyone was eager to sink their teeth into these tasty treats. (See pictures below)

After lunch, we gathered in our groups one last time to conclude the discussions and reflect on what we were taking away from this conference. This finished with one last team building exercise. We were presented with a sheet of A4 paper and a scissors and asked to try and make ourselves fit through the piece of paper. After what felt like hours of confusion and bewilderment, we gave in and were shown the solution. (Figure that one out, kids!)

Finally, we gathered as a whole group to reflect upon what we had learnt and what we would take away from this. We were asked to write a pledge to ourselves on if we were going to carry this on in our community and if so, how we would do it. I pledged to keep myself more educated on what goes on in my community and to do what I can to help.

To conclude, I think it’s important that we are more involved in our communities and that we are eager to take part in community projects. The difference it could make to our community is immense.

Chloe Williams, Year 12.