Ballyfermot Youth Service Adventure Centre
The Ballyfermot Youth Service Adventure Centre (BYSAC) is ideally situated within the Park West Business Park. The centre is adjacent to the 7th Lock, Grand Canal, this location compliments the facilitation of the wide range of activities & programmes on offer to young people.
At the BYSAC, we strongly believe that every young person from a socially disadvantaged area should have unrestricted access to safe and rewarding adventurous opportunities that include engagement with nature and general outdoor environments.
Inclusion of young people underrepresented or socially excluded within society is vitally important to the work of the Ballyfermot Youth Service Adventure Centre (BYSAC).
Engagement in positive outdoor learning opportunities within naturally empowering environments can increase a young person’s potential for developing essential life skills. These important life skills can ultimately enhance the educational and personal development prospects of a socially
The BYSAC combines outdoor learning experiences with youth work practices, this, in turn, allows young people from our targeted groups a better opportunity of reaching their full potential in all aspects of life by engaging them in a wide range of outdoor experiential experiences.
Our diverse approach to youth development allows for all human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs.
As a community organisation, we have experienced first-hand the benefits of outdoor experiential learning and outdoor education. Many of our participating young people have completed 3rd level education in the area of outdoor education and youth work as a direct result of their engagement in outdoor education and positive youth development programmes through the BYSAC.
The opening of the BYSAC in 2005 saw a thriving interest immerge from the local area towards Outdoor Education.
In 2005 the BYSAC was known as the Ballyfermot Outward Bound Amenity Centre (BOBAS). Within its first year of existence, the BOBAS focused on one particular activity, that activity was kayaking. This activity helped bridge the relationship between staff and young people from the local area. To meet the growing need and enthusiasm other activities were introduced over time as the centre grew and the demand for other activities.
As of 2020 the BYSAC offers a complete wide range of adventure activity’s that help focus young people towards the benefits of Outdoor Education.
The BYSAC is complimented by a small team of outdoor education instructors. At present (2020) there are two main staff members – one full-time Outdoor Education instructor and one part-time Outdoor Education instructor/centre manager.
Our aim for the centre is to engage young people in our targeted groups and involve them in positive recreational activity. Through this involvement in exciting and very social activities we hope to develop core life skills such as: respect, teamwork, communication skills, and improving physical well-being as well as an awareness of self, others and the environment. We also promote a ‘Leave no Trace’ policy.
Throughout the year the young people have participated in a wide variety of programmes including, Intro to Kayaking & Open Canoeing, Irish Canoe Union Level 1 proficiency in kayaking, Mountain Biking & Bike agility as well as multidisciplinary adventure sports programmes, including rock climbing, orienteering, fishing, snorkelling, gorge walking, hillwalking, camping & overnight expeditions & residentials.
Most groups meet once a week for a minimum of 2 hours. The centre also works closely with other agencies within Ballyfermot who target specific ‘at risk’ groups such as early school leavers, Garda Diversion projects, young people already involved in the justice system and provides them with an outdoor education option for their programmes.
Organisations We Work With
WHAD, ABLE, BASE Young Parents Groups, St. Ultan’s Care Unit, Ballyfermot Travellers Action Project, Equine Centre Early School Leavers, The Life Centre, St Dominic’s Junior School Completion Programme & Mary Queen of Angles SCP.
Kayaking & Mountain Biking Sports Clubs
In 2011 we started two specific sports clubs which were a youth Kayaking Club and a Mountain Biking Club. The aim was to introduce a high skill level and competitive element for the young people that were dedicated to the sport. The Kayak club comprises of young people who have shown an aptitude, interest and enthusiasm for the sport. We also have 3 Junior leaders who have come up through other clubs and groups run by the centre over the past few years.
Recently they took part in the Junior Liffey Descent and in August travelled to Wales. They camped in the village of Bala on the banks of the Tryweran River which is one of the most popular kayaking destinations in Europe for young kayakers and clubs. It offers exciting dam controlled white-water up to grade 4 and a perfect safe training ground for groups to practice skills while getting a taste of the travelling culture which kayaking has to offer.
The Club is currently fundraising to go to Slovenia next year which is a highly renowned area for white water paddling. The Mountain Biking club involved 12 young boys from Ballyfermot. They trained on various downhill and dirt bike tracks around Wicklow. They took part in the Kippure Mountain Biking Summer Racing series where one youth won a bronze medal.
Due to the popularity in Mountain Biking as an activity with the young people, our bikes have had a great deal of use and are reaching the end of their useful life in the centre. Therefore, with the help of over 40 young people we have been fundraising to purchase new bikes by the end of the year. As part of the International Surfrider River and Coastal Clean up, 22 young people were involved in filling 2 large skips from the clean up of the Grand Canal at the 7th Lock.
Allegra Lalor, Outward Bounds Centre Coordinator/Senior Instructor
Ger O’Reilly, Outward Bound Instructor