Graduate Stories

Outdoor Education Graduate - Deirdre Kenneally

Deirdre Kenneally

What I do: Social Skills Therapist

For the last four years I have been working as a social skills therapist in a care centre for children that come to Norway to apply for asylum. Before that I spent a year working in an outdoor kindergarten or forest school.  The children in the care centre are aged from 0-15 years of age.  They are smuggled into Norway by an adult, or some travel alone. As they are children, their asylum cases are worked on as quickly as possible, so they can be placed in a stable home and integrated into the Norwegian society. In the care centre, we try to be as close as a parent as possible to these children without crossing the line. It is normal for them to stay in the centre for six months, but sometimes their cases can take longer. We try to make their life as 'normal' as possible. You know what, I never thought I would have to teach a 14 year old from Somalia to open a carton of milk. We try to get each child into at least one activity outside of school hours.  Monday to Friday can be busy with all the different activities.  I have to say that the weekend is where you really get the best out of the job.  This is where you can plan activities for the whole day. You really get out of what you put in!! It’s amazing how quickly they sleep after a day of fresh air......and its costs nothing!  I have held swimming lessons for a lot of them. Skiing is the winter activity here....great fun!  Before applying to this centre, I had my 'Outdoor Education Degree' translated to the closest line of education here in Norway.  It turned out that my degree has the same amount of points as a Social worker here in Norway, so my work title is a 'social skills therapist'.


How did the course help me

How did the course help me?  I don’t think I would be where I am today without finishing my degree. The course made me think for myself and come up with ideas I would not normally have come up with. Making a plan, working on it and following it through is one my personal achievements from Outdoor Education. It made me stronger and more confident as a person, when I could see results after the hard work.  Yes perhaps I could have got this from any course, but not just any course, with Outdoor Education it had the variety and challenge. Having lectures that taught outside of the 'normal' classroom situation, using props, role playing etc. opened my mind to a different way of easier way, a more real way, a way for everyone to learn.  I must say I have taken many ideas from College with me through the years. The social network of Outdoor education will always be there, everyone knowing everyone. It was a great support....and helped me on things I found challenging like public speaking.