Ben Lomasney, our marketing assistant, shares how the Irish Times’ ‘No Child 2020’ initiative has resonated with him and how important it is that children growing up in poverty have equal opportunities to reach their full potential:
When most people think of the word “poverty” they may imagine being homeless, not having enough to eat and not having enough money. However, what does not immediately come to mind perhaps is the less obvious aspects of poverty that children in particular face in Ireland.
The No Child 2020 series in The Irish Times has begun to shed light on these very aspects of childhood poverty in Ireland. As this series highlights, there is much more to the issue of poverty than just being without a place to call home and being able to afford adequate, nutritional food.
What struck me is the problem surrounding participation for impoverished children across Ireland. It has been found that children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds are far less likely to participate in arts and cultural activities than children from more affluent families. Cost is the main barrier to participation in these community and recreational activities.
Having lived a fortunate childhood where I never faced such barriers, it was easy for me at first to take for granted the effect that participation in such activities had on my development as a young person. However, reading an article in the No Child 2020 series, I realise how important such participation is in the development of key relationships and social skills as a child.
Growing up I was always involved in some form of recreational activity, such as playing for my local rugby and soccer clubs. When I look back on those days now with a fresh perspective, I realise how much this participation benefited me as a child. I made some of my closest friends through these activities and certainly developed my social skills, having always been a particularly quiet and shy person before getting involved in community activities.
It saddens me to think that there are many children and young adults who haven’t had this opportunity to be included in society because they or their families simply do not have enough money for them to participate in activities in their communities. I can imagine how excluded a child would feel from the conversations and the excitement that comes with being part of a sports team or experiencing cultural activities.
It struck me how isolating that must be.
I am grateful for the Irish Times ‘No Child 2020’ initiative for shining a light on this aspect of children in poverty. It’s so easy to forget how enriched we are as individuals by the positive experiences and quality relationships that can come from participating in cultural and sporting activities in early life.