On 26 October 2012, ALPHA attended a weekend residential at Canada Lake Lodge, Creigiau. Eight young people aged 14-19, accompanied by Cardiff University staff, embarked on this epic but educational experience in the five acres of secluded grounds and forestry. The ALPHA group of eight young people used the residential to improve the team’s skills in communication, planning and teamwork.
Saturday – building our team
On a freezing but sunny Saturday morning, after ALPHA was fed and watered, the group embarked on the start of the teambuilding activities before their ALPHA training and discussions. A variety of tasks were set for the team that would mean that as a group they would have to listen, understand, plan, communicate and build the activities under the watchful eye of Nick the instructor and Tess the dog.
Activities seemed simple to start with but the fastest and strongest structures were the ones that would be successful through the team work and communication. The first structure when created should hold a drain pipe and allow for water to flow freely without leaks from one end to the bucket on the floor. After a few nervous suggestions and dithering, the structure was erected and was free standing to allow for the task to be completed.
The second activity would see two teams passing a golf ball through plastic pipes, down steps, around the corners and finally into the bucket. This took a bit more time due to the race against the clock. The third activity tested the communication and planning learnt from the previous tasks to allow the group to be navigated by a leader, blindfolded, around the car park into a designated area, communicating only via an animal noise for instructions.
After a quick warm up by the fire, activity four was orienteering around the forest and lake looking for letters to make a word and would test teamwork unsupervised. The last activity would test all the skills from the previous activities to build a solid A-frame structure that would act as a pulley system to transport the young person from one side of the bank to the other, without touching the bank or falling off the log frame. All in all ALPHA did extremely well in all aspects of teambuilding and learnt vital skills which will allow them to progress as a youth group within DECIPHer.
Learning about research
Besides the teambuilding activities, ALPHA did have work to do over the weekend. On Saturday, the focus was on understanding research and knowing why and how it is conducted. ALPHA discussed the processes involved in conducting research, the different research methods that you can use and the advantages and disadvantages of each research method, In addition to this, they looked at understanding research ethics and why they are so important to conducting research within public health, inevitably leading to many heated debates!
On Sunday the ALPHA group enjoyed an extra hour in bed due to the time change, but never felt the effects due to the late evening (DVD watching). After breakfast we all got into the Jeep and headed out of the lodge to a secret location also known as a field for some archery, clay pigeon shooting and quad biking. After the adventures of the morning and again having to listen to Nick we all headed back to the lodge for a healthy Sunday lunch and to finish the residential training. The group was split into two and discussed the blog for DECIPHer.
ALPHA left the residential exhausted but enriched with new ideas for moving the group forward and engaging in more research as part of DECIPher. WATCH THIS SPACE…!
ALPHA (Advice Leading to Public Health Advancement) is DECIPHer’s advisory group of young people aged 14-19 who live in South Wales. Young people learn about research and public health through fun workshops, so they can meaningfully advise on research. For more information on ALPHA, email ALPHA’s Involving Young People Research Officer, Hayley Reed, follow ALPHA on Twitter (@ALPHA_DECIPHer) or join ALPHA’s Facebook group.