youth Programmes

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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.

HIV Awareness Programme

The programme 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, 16-17 year olds and to those over 18.

The content of the programme 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.

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 the Youth & Volunteer Development Department and International Department.

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 has practical and simple steps to help young people recognise the impact 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, while also stressing the role 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.

Youth on the Run

The purpose of the “Youth on the Run” programme is to enable young people to put themselves in the shoes of refugees and asylum seekers around the world, via a 24-hour role-play 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 the refugees meet on their long journey). By using this unconventional learning method, young people are more likely to develop tolerance for refugees and have reduced prejudice and racism.

IRCY runs two games per year, and each participant in the game is offered the opportunity to become an instructor in future games.

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 - focus on the importance of communication and interpersonal skills to be an effective leader

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

Teamwork - focus on the importance of teamwork and how a leader can manage the performance of the their team.

Fundamental Principles

The seven Fundamental Principles of the Red Cross are Humanity, Impartiality, Independence, Neutrality, Unity, Universality, Voluntary Service and these 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 which 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's Award Leader (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 the gold level of OPTIONS will contribute towards achieving the Bronze Gaisce level.

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.