Starting a Group in your School
In recent years there has been an increase in requests from Catholic secondary schools who wish to start Impact groups as an extra-curricular activity. The rise in the number of lay chaplains in schools has led to a renewed level of energy in the pastoral care of students and an increase in charitable works and community outreach.
Many teachers and chaplains have come to understand that the methodology and mission of the Impact programme is an appropriate way of combining these two important principles.
With chaplaincy or accompaniment from a dedicated adult, an Impact group in a school enables young people grow in confidence and responsibility, deepen their faith and develop their interpersonal skills and talents.
One of the underlying principles of Impact is that it is run by young people for young people. However it usually requires an adult (teacher or chaplain) in the school to initiate the process and act as a guide and support.
Due to the specialist nature of working within a school environment, sometimes it is necessary to be more flexible with the structure of the group. There are a number of different models of Impact currently and it is important to discover which model will suit your school best.
One way is to establish a group in a similar way to a parish setting. The chaplain or teacher will advertise the group to all students but also individually call some students who they think will benefit from being part of the group. Most Impact groups contain between 6 and 15 young people. Any more than this and it might be necessary to create two groups so that conversations can be productive.
It is important that from the beginning the young people feel that they have a genuine ownership of the group, following the principle that the movement is ran for and by young people. This includes allowing them to enter discussions on when the group will meet and what they want to discuss.
Another way may be to organise an event, either spiritual, social or ideally a combination of the two. Once at the event you can explain the concept of Impact and gauge whether the young people are interested in starting a group. This gives them ownership from the very beginning and they can invite their peers to join.
A third model which is present in a small number of schools is that an Impact group is established in every year group in the school. A teacher or another member of staff is appointed to accompany a particular year group in their weekly meetings. Every month, all of the groups gather together for a joint meeting where they share their discussions and actions and if necessary plan some joint action.
The National Team, including the National Chaplain, can offer help and support in setting up groups, supporting and training chaplains and adult companions and providing ongoing advice with our publications, visits and contact. Once your group is established you will be invited to take part in regional and national events where you can meet and have fun with young people from across the country.