Saturday 21 July 2018

Meet the Y 2 k Kids

They're the children of the millennium: born at the dawn of a new century and raised in the internet era. Here, in the year that they will celebrate their 18th birthdays, our reporter talks to five teens about their passions, dreams and fears - and what they think about being labelled snowflakes

Dylan Collins pictured near his home Bandon, Co. Cork. Picture: Clare Keogh
Dylan Collins pictured near his home Bandon, Co. Cork. Picture: Clare Keogh
Ashling Dunphy student at The Comeragh College, Carrick-On-Suir, Co. Tipperary. Picture: Patrick Browne
Ross Fennell from Glenview in Tallaght photographed in Tymon Park. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath
Jack Kelly from Mulhuddart, Dublin. Photo: Tony Gavin
Chloe Ormond at her home in Ballyfermot. Pic: Mark Condren

Chrissie Russell

This is the year that the kids of Y2K will come of age. They are the babies born in a year when Britney Spears and Destiny's Child were topping the charts, Gladiator and Billy Elliot were hits at the cinema, and outgoing US president Bill Clinton accompanied Bertie Ahern and Celia Larkin for a pint in Dublin's Fagan's pub.

Those born in the year 2000 bridge the divide between the tail-end of the Millennial cohort and Generation Z, and don't always get the best of press - often branded 'snowflakes', narcissistic and selfie-obsessed products of the iGeneration. But just who are they really? Ahead of their 18th birthdays, we talked to five teens to find out what really makes them tick, what their hopes and aspirations for the future are, and whether they think the stereotypes of their peers are fair…

You'll find an initiative led by young people in every village

Ashling Dunphy

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Ashling Dunphy student at The Comeragh College, Carrick-On-Suir, Co. Tipperary. Picture: Patrick Browne
 

Ashling lives with her parents and younger brother in Ballyneale, Carrick on Suir, Co Tipperary. She will celebrate her 18th birthday in December. She says:

"I think there are a number of misconceptions about my generation, but one in particular that irritates me is that 'teenagers are selfish and only care about themselves'. I'm not denying that this may be true in some situations but if you were to look into any town or village around the country, I believe you'd find an initiative that has been created and is led by young people.

"I'm involved in quite a few groups but it all started with Foróige. In 2016 Carrick on Suir was flooded and I pulled together some young people from Foróige. With the help of leaders and volunteers we set up a flood action aid team which was later called 'Angels in Wellies' by a local! It's just one example of what young people are capable of doing when we're given the tools and opportunity to help out with something.

"At the moment I'm in 5th year and my focus is centred on my studies and getting a good Leaving Cert in June 2019. To be honest, I'm not totally sure what I want to do in college but I've considered courses in the area of Law and Human Rights.

"I'm quite a worrier. There are a lot of big issues that concern me, things like the amount of young people that are currently homeless in Ireland. I think a lot of decision-makers and the public lack empathy towards those less fortunate than ourselves and that worries me. As someone living in a rural environment it also worries me that we're losing our local shops, post offices, pubs and schools and public transport. We can't drive until we're 17 so we need public transport to get from villages to local towns and cities.

"I'd love to see better support services for young people in need of urgent mental healthcare. I feel many people my age suppress their feelings and personalities because they want to fit in with the crowd. We're afraid to be different.

"There's huge pressure especially on girls to look like their favourite celebrities. From lip fillers to protein shakes, crash diets and gym sharks, the image of the perfect body is everywhere and it's extremely hard to feel confident in your own body when you're constantly being reminded how to have the perfect contour or abs."

I'd tax all the churces and use the money to solve the homelessness crisis

Jack Kelly

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Jack Kelly from Mulhuddart, Dublin. Photo: Tony Gavin
 

Youngest child Jack lives with his parents and two brothers in Mulhuddart, Dublin. He will turn 18 in April. He says:

"My big passion in life at the moment is photography and making videos. Right now, I'm applying to colleges to study cinematography. It's also the thing that stresses me out most - having teachers and my parents put so much pressure on me to pass my exams and go to college!

"The thing I'm most looking forward to about turning 18 is having more freedom and not having to answer to my parents. I hope that by this time next year, I'm in college with a big photography portfolio and a list of clients.

"In 10 years time I'd love to have made a number of films and published a number of books. But I don't think I'll stay in Ireland, I'd have more job opportunities in film if I move to the USA. The things I worry about are no one liking my work and not being able to get a job.

"Even though it might be tough now, I think there's a better attitude towards education today and more economic advantages that I have compared to when my parents were turning 18.

"The three words I'd use to describe myself are: creative, resourceful and determined. My best point is that I'm good at listening to people but my worst is that I care too much about what people think of me.

"If I had control of the country, the first thing I would do is legalise weed and tax it heavily. I'd also tax all churches as it would lower the public's tax, and I'd use the money to solve the homelessness crisis."

In 2019, I will go up for local election. It's not a hope or a dream, it's a definite

Ross Fennell

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Ross Fennell from Glenview in Tallaght photographed in Tymon Park. Picture Credit: Frank Mc Grath
 

Ross is an only child, living with his mother and grandparents in Tallaght, Dublin. His 18th birthday is in March. He says:

"Some young people can't wait to be 18 because they'll be legal to drink, but I can't wait to be 18 because I'll be able to vote. I think we should be able to vote at the age of 16. We're the next generation so we should be able to have a say.

"My family aren't political at all, but I've always been interested in politics. In 2019 - it's not a hope or a dream, it's a definite -I'll go up for the local election in Tallaght. I have all my goals ready for how I can achieve it and next month I'll start introducing myself and knocking on doors.

"I'd like to bring in change. One thing that really annoys me is the minimum wage for under-18s. I left a job recently and one of the main reasons was because someone over 18 was getting paid €9.25 for doing the exact same work as I was getting paid €6.85 to do. That's not right. It's also really hard for a 16-year-old to get work. You need experience, but if you can't get a job, how do you get experience?

"I also feel strongly about social housing. I'm 17 and my mam is 38 and we've been on the council housing list for eight or nine years without a call. We're living with my nanny and granddad but I need my space and my mam needs to move out.

"A typical week for me would be go to school on Monday, come home, do homework then I do a community walk with a group on my estate. I'm the chairperson of my estate's resident's association and at the moment we're trying to get goal posts put up in the estate so I might work on that Tuesday.

"Wednesday I go out with my friends then on Thursdays I go to a group organised by Foróige where we'll learn a bit of cooking, making carbonaras, stir fries and stuff. On Friday I relax and catch up on something like Big Brother, Saturday I'm out with my friends and Sunday is for family.

"The things I couldn't live without are newspapers, access to Oireachtas.ie, my phone and my friends and family - they're always there and they're always supportive."

There's no pressure to have a career for life. It's constantly changing

Chloe Ormond

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Chloe Ormond at her home in Ballyfermot. Pic: Mark Condren
 

Chloe has two younger brothers and lives with her mother in Dublin. She will turn 18 in September. She says:

"At the moment I'm a fifth year student so I'm preparing for my Leaving Cert and at the weekends I work in POCO in Dundrum. I've done some modeling with 1st Option Models and I have my Instagram and Snap Chat where I might put up pictures of nice outfits or if I'm going away. I think people [her account, @chloe_ormond has 27,200 followers] like seeing where I go and what I wear or what event I'm at. But I'm always really cautious of what I put up because once it's out there it's there forever.

"At school we're always learning about cyber-bullying and safety on the internet so in some ways I think my generation is more aware and able to deal with it than older people. We've grown up with technology.

"Lots of people call me a fashionista and fashion is one thing I love. If I'm browsing online I'm always on BooHoo and PrettyLittleThing. My style changes from day to day depending on what mood I'm in. I'll go from wanting to look like Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl to a more funky Rihanna look.

"I want to go to college and maybe I might study fashion, or I love training so I might go down the training and nutrition route, but I'm not too sure what I'll do when I'm older. I don't think there's the same pressure now to have a career for life. You're constantly learning and changing. I just want to be healthy and happy in the future. I want to do a job that I love and be able to have a nice home and a nice car and be able to go on nice holidays.

"I'd love to have loads of kids. I've two younger brothers [her dad is TV presenter Brian Ormond who has two sons, Ollie (4) and Louis (1) with wife Pippa O'Connor] and I love children. But I want to live my life first before I go down that road. Kids are hard and you need to be able to provide for them. I'd love to travel and maybe live abroad for a few years, but when it comes to settling down, I'll want to be in Ireland because that's where all my friends and family are.

"I worry constantly about my Leaving Cert! I also worry about losing a loved one, especially my nan and granddad because I'm really close to them. I worry that my mam won't settle down, she's so independent, I worry I'll settle down before her! I'd say the thing that stresses me out most is actually myself. I'm such a perfectionist and I always want to do better.

"The three things I couldn't live without are my mam - she's my best friend - my phone, which I have with me all the time, and my favourite pair of sliders.

"If I could change one thing in Ireland today, it would be the healthcare system. Not long ago I was in A&E all night long with one of my family members and the wait was more than 10 hours to be seen to. I could see all the doctors and nurses were working so hard but I'd change the system to make it a lot better.

"I'm so excited to turn 18 just because I'll be that little bit more independent. I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds and I'm excited when I think about getting older."

People my age are seen as messers, but I would beg to differ

Dylan Collins

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Dylan Collins pictured near his home Bandon, Co. Cork. Picture: Clare Keogh
 

Only child Dylan lives with his mother and grandmother in Bandon, Co Cork. He celebrated his 18th birthday last month. He says:

"Some of the most fun I've had in my life is being up late at night and working on a car with my friend. He took a rusty old 1997 Toyota Corolla and we ripped it to a bare shell and rebuilt it back to day-one showroom spec. New engine, new brake, new suspension, basically everything new, it took us a year of on-and-off work at nights after school and Saturday nights sacrificed to get it done. The most satisfying feeling I've ever felt was when the engine we put in started after over a year of not running.

"It would be my dream to work for Toyota. I'd like to do mechanical engineering in college and I also want to join the army reserves. At the moment life revolves around school and I work all day Saturday on my family's farm. I worry a bit about doing well at school but all I can do is my best, so it doesn't bother me too much. I get more stressed out about things being out of place in my workshop which is like a chapel to me!

"I love living in the country and I'd love to live in the countryside for the rest of my life, although in the early years of my career I'll probably live in a town or a city. The downsides are that it's hard to give anyone directions to where I live and the mobile reception and broadband is pretty poor, but those are just small things.

"I think that often people see people my age as less mature, messers who don't take life seriously - but I would beg to differ. Yes, there might be a percentage of young people who are trouble makers but I think 90pc of people my age are more focused on what they want to do. More of us want to travel and see the world compared to years ago when everyone stayed in Ireland and didn't dare discuss the world outside Ireland.

"The list of things that concern me are endless. I'm most concerned about how the world is slowly falling apart with war raging in the Middle East and a tyrant in presidency in the most powerful country in the world, but look, I'm a big believer that everything happens for a reason.

"If I could change one thing it would be to get rid of all the insurance companies in Ireland at the moment and start them all over again. For people my age, trying to start off driving, insurance prices in Ireland are a disgrace. It's especially hard for people like me who live in the countryside, who need a car to be able to get anywhere. It costs thousands to start driving for anyone who is 17 and it's especially hard for young lads.

"I wouldn't be much of a person worried about a phone or TV or anything, but I couldn't live without my car and the freedom of being able to drive wherever I want. I'd also hate anyone to take chocolate digestives and Lucozade off me!

"What I'm most looking forward to about turning 18 is being able to vote and have a say in my country's elections."

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