Nicole Joyce, 20, Dun Laoghaire

I started a youth group in my area, and by god if it wasn’t for them I don’t know where I’d be right now!

Nicole Joyce, 20, Mounttown Youth Service (Crosscare Dun Laoghaire)

Going into first year is where my stress and anxiety started, trying to find a school that was wheelchair accessible. I was now 12/13 and coming into my teenage years which were the worst years of my life. I started realising more about my disability and wasn’t accepting it. I was questioning why me? Why am I not like others? I was so depressed mainly because I was ‘different’. I became so depressed I would sit in my room all day and just cry. I wouldn’t get into my wheelchair because I would be so angry at it. I’d shut myself off from the world. I was so upset and angry at life, and just wanted to be “normal”.

I started a youth group in my area, and by god if it wasn’t for them I don’t know where I’d be right now! The confidence I’ve gotten from being part of that is unreal. They made sure I was a part of every activity, even if it was hard, they would push me and give me the confidence I needed. I’ve been able to do rock climbs, quad biking, jump off cliffs and many more amazing things

Last January aged 19, with a broken wheelchair, not doing anything, depressed, didn’t know where my life was going. After leaving secondary school nothing exciting was happening in my life. I was a mess.

Then the youth workers called to my house. They hadn’t seen me in a while and asked me what I was doing. I told them how bad things were going for me. They suggested that I might start coming back to the youth service. They arranged for me to see the life coach in the Boylan centre and they came up and collected me on the youth service bus and brought me to every appointment. The Youth Info advocated on my behalf to get a new wheelchair, which allowed me to get out again. Slowly I started to gain confidence and look around to see what was on offer for me. I applied to college and started in Sept 2017, and I love it – just today I came down to fill my SUSI grant out at the youth info centre. I continue to receive support in all aspects of my life from the youth service.

Without Sharon and Michelle and Janette I don’t know where I’d be. The confidence I’ve gotten for being a part of their youth group from an early age has been fantastic. From the beginning they made sure I was included in every activity even with my disability. It’s a place I feel safe and connected. In the youth project I wasn’t different.