Rochdale Connections Trust utilises Minecraft to focus youth group sessions

Date published: 09 April 2021

Local charity Rochdale Connections Trust (RCT) has developed an innovative approach to provide support for young people.

Like many organisations, RCT had to change its approach due to the pandemic and transferred the support to online zoom sessions.

After discussing and using feedback from youth group sessions, Youth Development Worker, Jaymi Matthews suggested utilising an online gaming platform to provide emotional and social support with potential for developing personal growth and interpersonal skills.

Block construction game Minecraft was chosen as the online platform, which would be used to focus the youth group sessions, named Aim2Game.

Minecraft provides a closed and secure platform for online gaming sessions and – alongside the code of conduct developed and adhered to by session users and facilitator Jaymi –  Aim2Game hopes to provide a positive and interactive gaming experience.

Each session involves positive communication via a closed WhatsApp group, encouraging the young people to develop their social skill set outside the set session times.

Aims and objectives are provided by Jaymi beforehand, making the session a creative and critical piece of the jigsaw as participants create a Minecraft world together.

By giving the young people roles and purposes and a safe space in the world which they create, RCT hopes to promote team work, creativity, problem solving, positive communication and social inclusion as well as building self-esteem and resilience whilst gaming.

To date, Aim2Game has received a positive amount of interest and participants have worked well together. The young people are already demonstrating the positive impact the sessions can have, reflecting on their personal gaming and communication styles.

Both Jaymi and the RCT team are 'very proud of the project', which is a positive and modern step towards offering tailored support to young people.

With Aim2Game being a pilot programme, believed to be the first of its kind in the surrounding areas, RCT hope to develop and expand this unique form of support, even to those who may experience digital poverty.

With the help of the local company Zen, RCT has been able to provide Aim2game young people with laptops and computers to allow them to join.

The Aim2Game programme currently consists of three weekly online sessions followed by a Zoom session with guest speakers and group discussion. Certificates are awarded for positive participation.

Looking to the future, the Aim2Game facilitator hopes to adapt the programme to include family bonding and area to area connectivity with networked organisations.

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