The Gibraltar Youth Service is celebrating the 20-year anniversary of the Luce Foundation. The partnership with the Foundation dates back to the year 2000 when Senior Youth Worker, Rebecca Figueras, took an active interest in developing a sustainable outdoors education programme for young people across the community.
“I was a youth work student at the time but I knew that this was an incredible opportunity of developing my relationship with the foundation and the stakeholders who had an interest in giving opportunities to young people. I was directly involved with ‘youth working’ the groups and preparing them for residential opportunities abroad. Due to my commitment within the project, the Youth Service quickly proved that we were able to have continuity and we took a ‘lead’ role”, said Rebecca.
The Luce Foundation trip is a lifelong learning experience where participants are taken out of their regular environment and challenged with a variety of opportunities and experiences. The trip takes the form of weeklong residential where young people get a chance to sample outdoor activities such as kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking, horse riding and activities that help them build up their communication and problem solving skills in a different setting.
During the years, trips have varied and have ranged from bespoke residential centres in Applecross, North Scotland, Grazalema in Spain and even the famous Tall Ships Voyage Youth Trust. Thanks to the funding received from the foundation, trips have taken place every year since its inception, however, it is unfortunate that due to COVID-19 we have not been able to celebrate the 20-year anniversary, but plans are now underway for a potential overseas trip next year in summer 2021.
Throughout the years, the Luce Foundation Project has grown from strength to strength with the Gibraltar Youth Service having continuous contact with Andrew Bonfante, Chair for the Foundation. The Youth Service has cemented its relationships with the stakeholders and has set up a system of referral for the young people to be able to access the programme. The multi-agency approach involves Bayside and Westside secondary schools, and the Royal Gibraltar Police who supports by allowing an officer to attend the trip.
It was with great pleasure that last year (2019) Lord and Lady Luce visited Gibraltar for a presentation delivered by the Youth Service to the Luce Trustees. The presentation provided an opportunity to see the tangible benefits and the real learning experiences the project provides and trustees were truly impressed with the positive outcome from the over 250 young people who have had the privilege of participating in these annual trips throughout the years.
The Gibraltar Youth Service is very proud to be the lead in this project, providing 20 years of educational opportunities for young people. The Youth Work team have proved to possess the passion, the skills and the consistency to make this programme a reality.
The Youth Service would like to take this opportunity to thank all the supporting partners for seeing the value of working together for the benefit of the young people in Gibraltar and like to show gratitude to the Senior Management at Bayside and Westside Schools together with the Royal Gibraltar Police for always supporting the programme year in, year out. A special mention to the ongoing support provided by Andrew Bonfante. As the Chair of the Foundation, he has always shown trust and great professionalism towards the work being carried out for the Foundation.
Here is to the next 20 years!
Testimonials from young people
Raygan Martinez-Gaivizo (now aged 25) – “I remember going through a difficult time before going on a trip to Cadiz. It really helped me interact with other young people who were different to me but all accepted the way I am. It made me realise that it was okay to be different and that all of us had issues of our own that we could overcome to become better people! The Youth Service as a whole has been a major support in my life and a place where I could always find comfort”.
Ivann Gomez Mannion (now aged 19) – “I found the trip pretty exciting and fun. I actually learnt lots of things like rock climbing, archery and also enjoyed spending time with friends and I will never forget this event”.
Skye Bargon (now aged 18) – “The trip was filled to the brim with a week of activities, new experiences and lots of fun! The Youth workers made it a trip to remember, the encouragement and support was amazing! The workers included everyone and icebreaker games really brought the group closer. The event allowed me to experience new things, it challenged my comfort zone, helped me gain perspective, make new friends and overcome language barriers. I’d highly recommend this trip to any young person who is up for an action packed fun week”.
Adam Boydon (now aged 16) – “Lots of people wanted to go on this trip and I was one of the lucky ones to be selected. I had a chance to meet and become friends with many people that I did not think I would get along with. Overall I had the best time of my life”.
Testimonials from teachers and Royal Gibraltar Police Officers
Sean Ballester (Westside School teacher) “I was fortunate enough to accompany a group of students from Bayside and Westside Schools to El Coto de la Isleta in El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain back in 2018 as part of the Luce Foundation Residential Trip. The experience brought together a group of students, some of whom had never met each other before. By the end of the week it was amazing to see how these students flourished and grew as individuals and as a group. I am convinced the outdoors and hands on learning will serve them well for many years to come. Additionally, I was able to learn a thing or two myself from seeing them be themselves and play so happily in nature. More of these experiences are what all our youth desire and need. A big thank you to the fantastic Youth workers who were and continue to be superb. Thanks to their hard work, passion and behind the scenes preparation, all our students were able to enjoy a special and unique lifetime experience”.
Jonhenry Mauro (Bayside School teacher) “I was fortunate enough to be included with the Luce foundation trip as the Bayside School representative in 2008. The trip allowed students from varying walks of life to have an experience beyond what many of them had ever undertaken before. It involved a large array of activities such as kayaking, zip lining, canyoning to name but a few. It was evident from the start that the individuals involved were so grateful for the opportunity and learnt and experienced so much during our week away. It developed these individuals physically, mentally and socially in a way that would not ordinarily be possible. I am confident that those involved really made the most of the opportunity making memories to share for years to come. I hope that the initiative will continue allowing even more of our youth to avail themselves of such opportunities”.
Clayton Busto (Westside School teacher) “Back in 2007 I was fortunate enough to be blessed with the opportunity of accompanying a group of teenagers from different walks of life from Gibraltar. We spent a week in Spain with an action packed line-up of activities for all to enjoy. This included raft building, canyoning, cycling, canoeing, zip lining amongst many other activities. The students came from different home backgrounds, some more fortunate than others and with one common goal, to spend a week doing activities that would strengthen their physical and mental abilities and develop their social skills. Thanks to the Luce Foundation, the Gibraltar Youth Service, the centre’s instructors and another teacher, we made sure that memories were made that would last a lifetime”.
Sophie Linares (Bayside School teacher) – “What an amazing experience it was to embark on an unforgettable adventure with a group of boys and girls from Gibraltar’s secondary schools to Inverness, Scotland in 2002. In accompanying the group, Rebecca Figueras, Peter Jackson and myself took part in activities ranging from trust building exercises and mask making to wading through gorges, crawling through muddy hedges bulging with rhododendrons, abseiling, canoeing frantically across the lake to escape the midges while taking turns to row or eat, hiking across lush and mountainous terrain and camping literally anywhere. The centre in Applecross was staffed by an amazing team of youth workers who guided us through these many challenges. On one occasion while carrying a 35-kilo rucksack as I supported the group from the end of the line of hikers, the ground consumed me up to my waist in one gulp. Flailing helplessly and calling for help, I had never been so relieved and grateful to see our 6-foot team leader who sprinted to my aid. In one swift movement, he hauled me out of the hungry ground and set me upon the earth. Consequently, he offered me walking sticks which I unabashedly used for the rest of the trek. We all took away something special from this nurturing wilderness which taught us humility, respect and both mental and physical endurance. During our stay, our group made friends with another visiting group”.
Terry Martinez (RGP Police Constable 178) “During my time assisting the Luce Foundation in the capacity as a Police Officer I have found it very beneficial for all relevant government bodies involved in making the Foundation what it is and the support it provides the children that use this facility. I feel that the RGP benefits from being part of this multiagency initiative as we are there instilling trust with the children that we interact with. It also shows a good level of team work with other agencies when matters arise and we are called to assist, knowing that what we can quickly and efficiently help those in need. I have had the opportunity to attend trips with the children along with other delegates from the Luce Foundation. These have been beneficial for the kids as it has provided them with opportunities that in other circumstances, they would not have been able to experience. These trips have provided me the opportunity, as a police officer, to build a level of trust with the children and in doing so, assisting the role that the Luce Foundation has set out within the Gibraltarian community”.