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Moving Out of the Comfort Zone: Improving Children’s Lives

Resource type: News

By Liam O’Hare, Improving Children’s Lives Initiative, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland

A truly heterogeneous mix of people will gather at Queen’s University Belfast on the 20-22 February 2014, with one unifying goal — to make real improvements in the lives of children and young people across the world.

The diversity of presenters and attendees at this conference stems from the growing realisation that there are no simple ways of preventing or intervening in the issues affecting young people. No magic bullets or quick fixes. Children interact with a variety of different systems, from the one inside their own head moving outwards through their families, peer groups, schools, clubs, surgeries and society as a whole. It is true that there are experts on each of these systems (or at least parts of them) but no one has a handle on it all. Hence the need to look at children’s lives in a collaborative, cross-sectoral and inter-disciplinary way. However, this involves people stepping out of their comfort zones and listening to different views (including those of children and young people themselves – imagine that!)

Liam O’Hare

There are many problems that require us to step outside the comfort zone in order to make true progress for children and young people today. Not least the lack of a common language to describe the issues, which may include terms that have 101 different definitions. There are debates about research methodologies (and not just among academics). Also, in a fast paced technological world, there are new problems experienced every day by practitioners, which service commissioners and evaluators have no idea exist. Again, there are no quick fixes to these problems (and many others), but it is true to say we will never make any progress unless everybody agrees to take that step out-side the comfort zone onto neutral ground.

So if you are a practitioner, academic, government official or politician with a desire to improve children’s lives and you are willing to take a tentative step outside the comfort zone, then you are more than welcome to join us for what should be three days of creativity, learning and fun!

Learn More

To capture a diversity of views, the conference themes are wide and include health, well-being, education and safety.

> View conference programme

> Register for the conference 

Registration is open until 31 January 2014.

Queens University of Belfast Foundation is an Atlantic grantee.