‘Get a life’ call to area’s teenagers

Anisha Anil who is a pupil at Banbridge Academy.
Anisha Anil who is a pupil at Banbridge Academy.

Dromore and Banbridge teenagers are being encouraged to put real-life fun, friendship, action and adventure ahead of social networking for a few hours each week.

The Army Cadet Force is inviting teenagers across Northern Ireland to take a break from their computers, phones and digital devices in order to check out what’s happening at their local Cadet Detachments.

On offer will be everything from boredom-busting outdoor adventure to confidence-building accreditations, with the opportunity to create a new network of friends while gaining skills and discovering hidden talents.

Colonel Sam McCammond, Commandant of 2nd (NI) Battalion Army Cadet Force, says, “We know just how much young people can achieve when they are given the opportunity and support to succeed, and that’s exactly what we offer in the Cadet movement. It’s always good craic, but our Cadets also put in some serious work, learning something new every week and stretching themselves with training that can lead to respected accreditations. Acquiring those new skills – whether that’s a BTEC in Public Services or how to abseil off a cliff – creates a real sense of achievement. Importantly, it also gives our Cadets something significant to put on their Personal Statements as they prepare for college or apply for their first jobs and everyone comes away feeling positive about themselves.

“No-one can be good at everything, but we believe that everyone can be good at something and our hugely committed Adult Instructors make sure that every one of the Cadets under their care has the encouragement and opportunity to shine.”

Teens from Cadet Detachments across County Antrim are already getting behind the membership campaign, preparing to welcome newcomers.

Cadet Sergeant Yasmin Andrews, who currently serves as her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant’s Cadet for the County of Antrim, says, “We all know how much you can get out of being a Cadet, but we also know that it can be awkward to walk into somewhere new, knowing no-one. Hopefully anyone coming along to check out our Detachment will see how friendly we all are and will feel welcome. … it’s up to us to persuade them to give Cadets a try!

“We get to do the sort of outdoor stuff that can cost a fortune if you try to go it alone - mountain biking, climbing, marksmanship, abseiling and kayaking, plus we can do the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, work towards BTECs and we get the chance to go on Camp every year.

Dromore Cadet Daniel Hooke agrees. He says, “There’s so much happening that there really is something for everyone. Most people find something they really enjoy and do well at but, even if you aren’t great at a particular activity, it’s always good craic having a go!”

Colonel McCammond adds, “Parents naturally want to give their children as many opportunities as possible but there have to be limits to withdrawals from the Bank of Mum & Dad! A key benefit of the cadet movement therefore is that all our activities are affordable or, even better, totally free … even the uniforms are free; all kids pay for is their footwear.

“Cadet membership is open to boys and girls from age 12 to 18 and, right now, local Detachments are encouraging potential new members to come along and see for themselves what the Cadet movement has to offer. The earlier you join the more time you have to fit in all the experiences, but people shouldn’t be put off by the idea that they’ve maybe left it too late. You can join at any time.

“Some Detachments are within schools, so information about how to join will be readily available from fellow students and schoolteachers, while other Detachments are open to wider membership. Certainly, for most people, there will be a Detachment within easy reach, and we are hoping that we’ll see plenty of potential new members coming along to check us out, without any obligation to make a commitment.

“Mums and dads are welcome to come along too, to see what the kids are getting involved with … and we’re hopeful that we may even be able to persuade some intrepid parents to consider working with us as Adult Volunteers! It’s not just children’s lives which can be energised through the Army Cadet Force!”

In Lisburn Cadets meet at 7pm each Tuesday in the Cadet Hut at Conway Street, off Wallace Avenue; in Dunmurry members of the Wallace Detachment Army Cadet Force meet at 7pm each Wednesday at Seymour Hill Primary School; at Moira the local Detachment of the ACF meets at 7pm each Tuesday at Moira Primary School and, in Dromore, the meeting time is 7:30pm each Monday at Cathedral Hall at Church Street in the town.

To find out more about how to join or find out more about your local Detachment call 0800 730 730 or visit www.armycadets.com.