Youth Programmes

Options Programme

OPTIONS is all about giving choices to young people in the programmes we run.

OPTIONS is all about giving choices to young people and helping them to learn and develop new skills. Participants have a chance to get involved in their local community, participate in sports and outdoor activities, learn about and protect the environment, and develop international friendships.

OPTIONS consists of three different levels of awards: bronze, silver and gold. Each participant must complete 6 of the 8 categories listed below to complete the award at each level.

The eight categories are Outdoor Pursuits, Communication, Environmental Awareness, Personal Development, Community Service, Sports, Leisure and Health, International and Cultural Understanding, Disaster and First Aid Training. Participants can also use participation in other IRCY programmes to complete the categories for their award.

LGBTI+ Allies Programme

This is the second programme for which IRCY have won an IFRC award.

The programme was created as a result of a motion proposed by, voted on and approved by youth members aged 4 – 25 at our biennial National Youth Forum in 2017. It empowers young people to become peer educators in their community and provides them with the language and the knowledge they require to resist discrimination and hate speech in an effective way.

It provides youth members with a self-evaluation tool in order to reflect on their own learning. It has attracted the interest of parents of youth members and adult members of Irish Red Cross, some of whom have subsequently been trained in the programme by Youth Leaders aged 18 to 25, creating a valuable intergenerational dialogue.

Positive Mental Health

The programme, which bears the slogan “First Aid for your Mind”, aims to provide young people with a set of tools for monitoring their mental health and well-being.

The programme pack practical and simple steps to help young people recognise the impact that their environment and lifestyle can have on their mental health. With twelve positive tips, it highlights the need for regular exercise, a healthy diet and rest, whilst also stressing the role that the support of friends and family can have in assisting with positive mental health. Each tip is linked to a fun activity and encourages open discussion on how to look after your mental health.

HIV Awareness Programme

This awarding-winning program covers information on HIV and its prevention as well as fighting stigma towards people living with HIV.

It empowers youth to become peer educators in their communities and has content divided into categories suitable to deliver to those 15 and under, 16 to 17-year-olds and to those over 18.

The content of the program also respects the diversity in cultures and religious beliefs of our members by providing content that is adaptable to ensure that everyone can be included. The content is regularly reviewed and updated with assistance from our partners in HIV Ireland.

Youth on the Run

The purpose of the “Youth on the Run” program is to enable young people to put themselves in the shoes of refugees and asylum seekers around the world, via a 24-hour role-playing game.

The role-play is based upon the interaction of participants (who play the roles of refugees) and instructors (who play the roles of various characters that the refugees meet on their long journey). By using this unconventional learning method, young people are more likely to develop a tolerance for refugees and reduce prejudice and racism.

Leadership Programme (aged 18+)

IRCY aims to ensure new and existing leaders are prepared for leadership roles and equipped with the necessary skills to develop youth members to tackle contemporary and emerging issues.

The programme is delivered in interactive workshop sessions covering three core areas:

Interpersonal skills – the importance of communication and the interpersonal skills required to be an effective leader.

Decision making – the importance of planning, pitfalls to avoid and the main obstacles to decision making. Participants also learn a range of decision-making techniques.

Teamwork – the importance of teamwork and how a leader can manage the performance of their team.

The programme also creates a space in which IRCY leaders from around Ireland can meet to discuss and share information and ideas as well as solutions to common obstacles they face in the course of their volunteering. The training weekend frequently includes outside speakers and trainers from other organisations who can provide our IRCY leaders with new skills and opportunities for collaboration.

Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change (YABC)

An initiative to promote a culture of non-violence and peace (CNV+P). Created in 2008 by the Principles and Values Department of the IFRC, this programme seeks to empower individuals to take up an ethical leadership role in their community. The programme focuses on self–development and mindfulness.

Fundamental Principles

The seven Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross are Humanity, Impartiality, Independence, Neutrality, Unity, Universality, Voluntary Service, are central to the common identity and purpose of all components of the Movement, including Irish Red Cross.  We have developed an activities and resources toolkit to assist with exploring them.  It contains various activities, games and conversation starters for participants. The activities are suitable for all age groups.

T-bears (4-9 years)

The Teddy Bear Resource is a programme that is available for use by leaders with youth members aged 4-9. The programme covers topics like belonging, health and hygiene, feelings and first aid. It has been designed to be interactive and fun and encourages learning through art, play and role-play.


IRCY is delighted to be a partner with Gaisce (The President’s Award). Many IRCY leaders have completed training to become President Award Leaders (PALs) so that IRCY members aged 15-25 can complete bronze, silver and gold levels of the Gaisce Awards within Irish Red Cross. We are currently working with Gaisce so that gold level of OPTIONS will contribute towards achieving the Bronze Gaisce level.

Positive Images

Positive Images is an exciting pan-European project aimed at promoting positive attitudes among young people towards vulnerable migrants, as well as raising awareness of development issues and enabling exchanges of learning across the EU.

The project was developed by the British Red Cross and adapted by the Irish Red Cross during a collaboration between Youth & Volunteer Development Department and International Department.

Therapeutic Hand Massage

A collaborative project between IRCY and Health and Social Care – youth members aged 12-17 can learn hand massage and visit nursing homes/care homes.

Get involved

To find out more information on IRCY or any of our programmes and events please email or phone 01 6424600. You can also visit our Facebook page at