First Choice Project

A pioneering project has been unveiled in Swansea this summer aimed at young people who are at risk of dropping out of education, employment or training. Many of these young people are struggling in this harsh economic climate and this is where the First Choice Project really proves its worth

The participants are taken on a mini-bus journey to a specially created environment where they are introduced to a cast of characters played by professional actors. The young people rapidly become engaged using detective skills to discover who these characters are and why they have come to this point in their lives. As the story unfolds the young people are able to intervene to change the course of the character’s lives.

“Young people often lack faith in their own abilities”, says First Choice founder and Project Director Eirwen Hopkins. “From the word go we demonstrate that actually they already have a vast array of skills with which to navigate their way through life”.

The two day project, based at Swansea University is funded by the European Social Fund and is part of the Reach the Heights initiative run by the Arts Council of Wales. First Choice is a significant component of the Swansea City Council’s Summer Programme.

Few young people know what to expect when they come along, but are soon hooked, debating the rights and wrongs of the character’s decisions. Creative Director Greg Cullen says that, “Their understanding of human nature is often highly developed because they’ve often led tough lives up until now. What they come away with is a sense of achievement and, we hope, a deeper insight into their own needs and how to achieve them”.

The First Choice Project, a part of Policy Institute Wales, in the School of the Environment & Society, has been running with great success throughout June and July and will continue until the end of August.  “This is just the beginning”, says Eirwen, “If this pilot project is as successful as we believe it to be, then we are seeking to develop similar projects across Wales reaching some of the most “at risk” young people in our communities. Intervention now can literally transform lives’.

This news item has been generated by First Choice founder and Project Director Eirwen Hopkins,  Tel: 01792 295448, or email: e.hopkins@swansea.ac.uk