Welcome to STEM Girls Podcast! 🎧

We’re thrilled to announce one of our most exciting new projects relating to our Makerspace Club programme!

One of our most popular weekly Makerspace club is STEM Girls every Wednesday; a space for young women interested in STEM and the world around us to come together and explore their passions and in the past several months, we have been developing a podcast project specifically for STEM girls.

Each episode will feature a chosen topic regarding STEM and anything in-between with questions relating, in which our STEM girls will give their own perspectives and have valuable discussions with each other.

This project has been a valuable and wonderful addition to making our STEM girls voices heard regarding important world issues and their wisdom and enthusiasm has played a major part in making this project so enjoyable.

An excerpt from one of our STEM girls.

When asked about why they wanted to get involved with the project, our STEM girls stated; “I wanted to get involved because it’s a new opportunity and I want to try new things.”

I think it will be a new experience and it will be nice to do with all the girls.”

“I just like the idea of a podcast in general.”

The first episode of the podcast project will be available to listen soon. For more information, updates, episodes and content regarding this great project, follow the official STEM Girls Podcast twitter @ymca_stemgirls.

Join Us at our Friday Night Drop In! 🎮

Our Friday Night Drop In has remained one of our most popular clubs since re-opening our doors earlier this year. With a consistently high attendance record and a healthy batch of regular and newcomers, this club frequently demonstrates its value every week.

But what gives this club its core appeal and why do so many young people consistently turn up?

YMCA Youth Worker Kieran McPhail states:

“I think given the stresses of the world being turned up to 11 these days with the still looming Coronavirus and the effect it has had on everyday life, a space for the young people to come on a Friday night and catch up with friends that they might not be able to see during the week and play some games, beat some high scores on the arcade machines or just chill out and chat with each other is incredibly valuable.

“It’s a space where they know they can relax and enjoy themselves. I think that’s mainly what draws the young people – a safe place to relax and socialise with some video games if they want to get their game on!”

Our Friday Night Drop In sessions place an emphasis on games and activities such as video games, quizzes and role-playing games. While young people are encouraged to share their favourite games to play with their friends, the club also acts as a space for young people to hang out and talk to friends after a long week.

When asked what he believes attracts the young people to this particular club, Kieran states:

“I think the young people enjoy that time in the space. I personally think this has had such a positive impact on the young people. Somewhere where they can drop the stresses of school and life and just let them be themselves and enjoy the end of their week with their friends!

“I think I’ve also noticed a lot of growing confidence among the young people! All the while coming into the space with great big smiles, bright hellos and witty jokes.”

Tickets for our Friday Night Drop In and all of our other clubs during the week are available from Eventbrite!

Reflecting on Social Circle 💬

As we say goodbye to our weekly Social Circle project, we look back on the various important sessions we had with our young people and the value of this weekly project spanning several months.

Social Circle was a social space for young people to come together and discuss current events, the online world and building relationships with others. In particular, this club aimed to explore and discuss nurturing healthy relationships and how the digital age has changed and reshaped our worldviews with different topics each week.

It also aimed to be a safe environment for our members to discuss their feelings and emotions and share their views about what’s going on in our world. Our sessions intended to be informative, open and honest and most of all, fun!

Each week, our young people tackled social issues such as gaslighting, bullying, acceptance and what makes a relationship good or toxic. They discussed what makes a good friend, how to spot manipulative language and the best course of action to take when someone is being mistreated.

We are thrilled with the results of this project and we hope it will encourage our young people to take what they have learned into the future to be the change they wish to see in the world.

These final parting words from our young people showcase their hope for the future;

“I would like the world to have no bullies.”

“I hope that in the future, the world will be a more accepting place for everyone.”

“I would hope that the world could become a place where people aren’t afraid to show who they really are.”

Tickets for our other weekly Makerspace clubs are available from Eventbrite.

What place does Gaslighting have in toxic relationships? Social Circle debates 💬

As our Tuesday night Social Circle sessions continue, we have introduced specific topics concerning relationships and interaction for our young people to discuss and debate with the help of our youth workers.

This week’s session was a discussion between our youth workers and young people on the definition and examples of gaslighting, and how it can indicate a toxic or abusive relationship.

Our youth workers defined gaslighting as a means to manipulate someone into questioning their own reality. It was a term many of our young people were unfamiliar with but learned through giving examples of relationships in which someone could manipulate or twist another person’s words to make them believe what they want them to believe.

One of the most valuable parts of the session came from a word/phrases game, in which a youth worker would read a phrase aloud and the young people would debate on whether the phrase counted as an example of gaslighting.

When prompted with the phrase “What you’re joking about is upsetting me. I’m not okay with it,” our young people stated: “I would say you’re not gaslighting… the way you were saying it sounds like you’re just trying to have a conversation with someone. Like if you sat someone down and tried to give them your feelings in a way to help yourself and them. If someone was joking about something personal and kept going on about it, you would end up being upset and if you react calmly with that, I don’t think it’s gaslighting.”

In response to the phrase “Take a joke!”, they responded, “Not really, because if you only said it once, that could be just you getting defensive. I think a lot of people do this, when they realise they’re in the wrong they start instead of apologising. I think especially if you’re male, then you might start getting defensive instead of trying to open up and say you’re sorry.”

By contrast, our young people said of the phrase “You’re too sensitive!”,: “I think it is gaslighting … See if you say to someone they’re too sensitive but you mean it in a way of trying to help them out, if someone is dealing with something and getting upset a lot and you say to them they’re too sensitive to try to help them, then I guess in that sense it’s not. But see if you say it over and over again, then I get that it can be then. That would qualify.”

Social Circle highlights the importance of having these conversations with young people, as their contributions are both insightful and informative, leading to them having just as much to teach as they do to learn. It also highlights these terms and dynamics so young people can identify them easily, leading them to recognise what makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy.

Tickets for next week’s Social Circle are available from Eventbrite.

The New Dimension to Social Circle

During the pandemic in accordance with government guidelines, many of our clubs were moved to online zoom calls every week as opposed to physically interacting in the space. In spite of this and the challenges it posed, Paisley YMCA were committed to giving their young people a space with our youth workers to enjoy club activity and conversation that many of them look forward to each week through the use of technology.

However, most of our club activity has now moved back to being able to physically meet and interact in the space and it has marked a new phase for one of our most recent club projects.

Social Circle is a Makerspace club launched by Paisley YMCA whilst in lockdown, with it beginning in online zoom sessions similar to the other clubs. Social Circle is devised as a space for young people to come together and discuss important social issues, the online world and building healthy relationships with others. This project was made possible through funding from the Early Action Systems Change Initiative.

With government restrictions now allowing our Makerspace clubs to once again meet in person, this has brought out a new dimension to Social Circle. YMCA Youth Worker Kieran McPhail states:

“As Social Circle came to a close with the online sessions and opened up to in person sessions, we’ve seen much more engaged and conversation driven sessions with lots of ideas, views and even some debate arising throughout.”

Kieran goes on to explain what the young people at Social Circle have been having debates about:

“The in person sessions have had a focus on friendships and how to recognise signs coercive control – or as we have been calling them; good and bad vibes between friends and what those signs are or could mean. There’s a lot of focus being given to the context of what’s being said and done during the sessions.

“The young people are very keen to discuss and dig into the “what, why and how” of the issue of coercive control and healthy relationships!”

Kieran also states the key differences the physical presence has brought to Social Circle compared to its online origins and the value of this club as a space for our young people:

The online sessions were a good platform, don’t get me wrong, a good place to talk and discuss with a heavy focus on just that, talking and discussion. These were very valuable and good sessions. But the in person sessions have a lot of energy and allows for a bit of light with games to break up and ease the heavier topics of discussion.

“I think Social Circle is a place to come and discuss the idea of how a healthy relationship should look and be as well as a space to discuss topics that are affecting the young people, such as the climate crisis, social crisis, anything the young people feel strongly about that they will have to confront as they step into the world as adults or even right now.

“These sessions would be incredibly valuable to keep continuing with, as these topics of discussion do not have enough young voices being heard despite it being young people who will have to pick up the pieces and stand up to and against the issues they want to speak out about and discuss.”

Tickets for Social Circle and all of our other clubs during the week are available from Eventbrite!

A Interactive Day of Fun with SoundPlay Projects! 📟

Our Summer of Fun project comes to an end with another collaboration from SoundPlay Projects as part of Conversations with Installations!

Partnering with Soundplay Projects, last week saw the display of a digital mural at Paisley YMCA for the general public to interact with and experience the science and technology of creating it. This is one of the many projects from Soundplay that integrates art and sound with moving pictures to create an interactive experience.

Founder of Soundplay Projects and Musician, Bal Cooke states, “We are really happy with the results – we weren’t quite sure how people would react to something like this out on the high street but the reaction has been so positive, across all age groups too.”

It shows the impact of combining the technology with natural artistic creativity in order to inspire our young people and get them thinking about the impact they could make. Soundplay Projects and Paisley YMCA emphasise the importance of accommodating new audiences and inclusivity, especially young people to encourage them to begin thinking about the way these methods can be used, as Cooke explains;

“I think young people like seeing technology used in unexpected ways like this – combining elements like sensors, sound and digital visuals. It can really fire the imagination and I hope it inspires young people to think about creating their own digital work.”

For more information regarding Soundplay Projects, please check out their website for details.