People connect more with faces and stories than with statistics. In developing this exhibtion, Junior Freshman student Sheelan Yosefizadeh hopes to bring the struggle for women’s rights in Iran to life through focusing on the courageous women and men who risk everything on a daily basis to achieve equality. The exhibition was officially launched by Nobel Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi in September and is currently touring nationwide. Sheelan has addressed audiences in universities and public fora nationwide and is now an advisor for Social Entrepreneurs Ireland's Wave Change Youth Civic Engagement Initiative. Read Sheelan's project blog...
In July, Senior Freshman student Emily McCormack coordinated a four day summer camp for girls between the ages of 12 and 16 which deals with topics such as Body Confidence and Image, Leadership, Politics and Community and Local Environment in a fun and engaging manner. Read Emily's project blog...
Run by Senior Sophister student Cíara Begley, this project will bring a small focus group of young people together with the purpose of looking at politics, specifically inequality and discussing recent developments to gain a younger perspective. The purpose is to develop a set of ideas and meaningful actions that young people could take. Read Cíara's project blog...
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. My name is Sheelan Yousefizadeh
I hope that you are all enjoying the conference so far. I know that I have found the discussions over the past day and a half very stimulating and interesting, and it is a real pleasure to be surrounded by so many accomplished people.
I would now like to take this opportunity to give you a brief introduction to our exhibition, as well as introduce our very special guest, Dr. Shirin Ebadi who will be launching the exhibition.
‘Keeping Iran’s Heart Beating- Stories of Women’s Rights Activists’ is a collaboration between Amnesty International Ireland Iran Group with the support of trinity College Community Initiative Fund, without whom, this exhibition would have not happened. Our goal in creating this exhibition was to challenge the negative perception that exists in the western world towards women in the Middle East as weak and vulnerable. As a young Iranian girl living in Ireland I wanted to show that there are many women who stand up for justice and demand equality no matter how many times they are arrested, tortured or stopped. Human rights defenders who claim their own rights, rather than passively wait for rights to be given to them
This exhibition, which is dedicated to the memory of women’s rights activists Haleh Sahabi and Bahareh Alavi who tragically passed away in 2011, was compiled over the last four months, with the help of many groups and individuals. A big thank you has to go to everyone who has helped out at every stage of this exhibition. The volunteers of Amnesty Iran group who were always enthusiastic about the project and provided their support until the very end. Amnesty international staff who have supported the Iran group over the past two years and in particular this project. A special thanks has to go Bart Storan who has gone above and beyond, and work many weekend to help me with this exhibition. Our very patient and creative designer Patrick McKay for bring to life the stories of the activists. The conference organizers, in particular Professor Maria Baghramian who made it possible for us to be part of this great event. And finally, the activists themselves, for allowing us to profile their extraordinary life stories and share it with the rest of the world.
My involvement with human rights issues began 3 years ago, and I have Dr. Ebadi to thank for that. I had always been fascinated by Dr. Eabdi’s ability to portray a new face of Iranian women to the world. Strong, knowledgeable, brave, courageous, confident, standing up for the rights of those who have been abused, forgotten or neglected, which are qualities that all 19 activists in the exhibition share.
I met Dr. Ebadi in 2007. Before this ; I was simply a young girl with some awareness that human rights abuses were going on around the world. During our hour long conversation Dr. Ebadi advised me to be “strong, courageous and go forward.’ She was disappointed that I was not very aware of the abuses that were going on in my country and advised me to get more informed. She reminded me of how lucky I was to be living in a free country such as Ireland and how many young people my own age do not benefit from many of the privileges that I have here.
After being challenged by Dr. Ebadi to get involved in changing the world that I see around me though, I felt compelled to do exactly that.
I joined Amnesty International hoping that I could help raise the voice of the voiceless in Iran and the rest of the world. That pushed me to get active with the Amnesty youth section, setting up a group in my school and later getting involved in college. My activities included campaigning against Female Genital Mutilation and the Death Penalty among many more, but the issues of human rights abuses in Iran where always dear to my heart. This pushed me to join the Amnesty Iran group when it was set up in 2009.
Looking back at it now, I feel like I have come a long way from just four years ago, and I must admit that if it weren’t for Dr. Ebadi’s words of encouragement I wouldn’t be where I am today. I hope that by telling the stories of the 19 activists, I can encourage others to get involved the same way that Dr. Ebadi encouraged me.
And so, without further ado, I would like to invite Dr. Shirin Ebadi to officially launch the ‘Keeping Iran’s Heart Beating’ exhibition.
With less than ten days to go until the launch of Keeping Iran’s Heart Beating- Stories of Women Rights Activists I am now finalising the last few details. However, those last few details are proving stubbornly difficult! Whilst the date has been set, the location picked, and the speaker confirmed, we are still not quite finished editing our information!
Since last week, I’ve been working closely with the designer and Amnesty International staff on the layout and design of each banner. I finally got to see a first draft of one of the exhibition banners today. Seeing the images and profiles of each activist laid out in a professional manner really brings their stories to life, and I hope this will encourage those stories to travel around Ireland.
To add an interactive element to the exhibition, we spent about a week speaking to a variety of the featured human rights defenders and recording audio messages from them. Hopefully this will help people attending the exhibition to connect with their stories. That would really make all the effort worthwhile!
I have set up a fan page on facebook for the exhibition https://www.facebook.com/keepingiransheartbeating which I hope to keep updated as the exhibition travels around Ireland and Europe over the next year. The fan page will offer a platform for feedback on the exhibition and discussion around women rights in Iran and the Middle East. Please become a fan!
Keeping Iran’s Heart Beating- Stories of Women Rights Activists will be showcased in UCD during the following times:
Friday 16 September 12:00-6:00pm: Blue Room, UCD Student Centre
Saturday 17 September 9:30-6:00pm: UCD Student Centre Lobby
We are honoured to have Nobel Laureate Dr. Shirin Ebadi officially open the exhibition. Dr. Ebadi will be launching the exhibition at 13:30 Saturday 17 September as part of the Law, State and Religion conference in UCD. The launch gives us a great opportunity to link one of Iran's most prominent human rights defenders with activists working on Iranian issues here in Ireland.
I first met Dr.Ebadi back in 2007 when I was 16 years old – a hopeful email to her secretary resulting in an hour long interview for my school magazine. Back then, I was not involved with Amnesty International; I was simply a young Iranian girl living in Ireland with some awareness that human rights abuses were going on in the world.
During our hour long conversation Dr. Ebadi advised me to be “strong, courageous and go forward. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are a right of human beings.’ She was disappointed that I was not very aware of the abuses that were going on in my country and advised me to get more informed. She reminded me of how privileged I was to be living in a free country such as Ireland and how many young people my own age do not benefit from many of the privileges that I have here.
After meeting her and thinking through our conversation, I started to realize how fortunate I really was. It was at that point that I decided to get active with Amnesty international and helps raise the voice of the voiceless in Iran and the rest of the world.
Looking back at it now, I feel like I have come a long way from four years ago, and I must admit that if it weren’t for Dr. Ebadi’s words of encouragement I wouldn’t be where I am today. I hope that by telling the stories of the 19 activists, I encourage others to get involved the same way that Dr. Ebadi encouraged me.
I am currently at the final stage of compiling the profiles of the twenty activists that will be profiled as part of the exhibition. Over the past few weeks the members of the Amnesty Iran group have played a major part in compiling information on each of the activists which was put into a short 200 word profile. With just one more week to go before we reach the deadline for compiling all of the material before the editing process begins, we are on track with our timeline. I am currently waiting on only six more profiles.
While compiling the profiles of the activists I also got in contact with printers and designers in order to get an estimate for how much the exhibition is going to costs. It seemed at first that the printing and design was going to be very costly, meaning that we might end up over budget. Thanks to a member of the group we were able to get a more affordable estimate with a designer with whom we had worked with previously.
The next two weeks will be spent on editing the profiles under Amnesty International Ireland's guidance. Once all the editing is done, the designer will start working on the layout and hopefully by then the exhibition will be in its final stage.
The layout of the exhibition at the moment is going to be as follows:
- 1st board- map of Iran followed by general info on the country
- 2nd board- timeline of Women movement in Iran
- 3rd board- short description of the main Women rights campaigns in Iran
- 4th board- quotes from Iranian women about the needs of the women of Iran
- 5th board- Amnesty Iran group info & contact details
- 20 further boards, one on each of the activists
I’ve also decided to put together an eight page booklet which will profile five of the activists who are currently in prison. The booklet will contain information on how to take action and will be available at the exhibition for people to take home with them.The other big news of the last few weeks has been finalising the conference in UCD at which I plan to have the first launch of the exhibition. The conference title Law, State and Religion: An Inter Disciplinary Conference in Honour of Dr. Shirin Ebadi, will take place on the 16-17th of September in UCD. There will be a key note address by two prominent Iranian activists and academics, Dr Shirin Ebadi (2003 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate) and Professor Ramin Jahanbegloo (University of Toronto). More information on the venue in UCD is yet to be confirmed but you can find more information on http://www.lawstatereligion.com.
The aims of the project can be broken broadly into two categories: awareness raising and promoting activism.
We aim to have two stories placed in the domestic Irish media about the launch of the exhibition and for the project to be displayed in 20 different locations in Ireland by the end of the academic year, resulting in at least 1000 Irish people seeing the exhibition. We are aiming for 1000 signatures on the petition accompanying the exhibition with the signatories joining the Iran group mailing list.
The Iran group in Amnesty Ireland is part of a global movement of more than 3.2 million people working in more than 150 countries around the world. We are independent of any political ideology, economic interest or religion. We do not support or oppose any government or political system. Our sole concern is the protection of the fundamental human rights guaranteed to each one of us by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Our hope is that the impact of seeing and reading the stories of ‘The Courageous women of Iran’ will encourage many of the visitor to become active and start taking action. This can be measured by monitoring the number of new members the group gains after the exhibition, the number of people that take part in letter writing campaigns or urgent action and an increase in the number of people who turn up to events that are organized by the Iran group.
I am struggling to think of a creative way to introduce myself so the tried and tested will have to suffice- my name is Emily and I am 20 years old. I hail from Mullingar, Co. Westmeath- home of Joe Dolan, beautiful lakes and fine heifers- a winning combination. I study European Studies and this September I will be leaving the cobble-stoned loveliness of Trinity for the snowy gruffness of Moscow as I am majoring in Russian. As I will be away for the year I decided to stay in the Emerald Isle for the summer. I saw the Community Initiative Funding as an excellent opportunity to not only have a productive and challenging summer but to implement some of the ideas I had been brewing for a number of years. The idea for Spirit can mostly be attributed to 2 weeks I spent in the Vermont Governor’s Institute on Current Issues and Youth Activism in 2009 as an EIL Travel Award winner. There we discussed a wide range of social and political issues from human trafficking to environmental issues to election funding we also took part in activities such as barn dances, volleyball and marched in the 4th of July parade. It was a fun, exhilarating and stimulating experience that has since spurred on my volunteering and awareness of being an active citizen. I wanted to create a similar feeling and experience in others. My project will be aimed at empowering young women to make a difference in their communities while giving them a sense of self-belief and confidence. With less than 3 weeks to go I still have a lot of work to do but will keep you posted on my progress!
Spirit- Final Thoughts
From the beginning this project was subject to scrutiny, almost solely from myself. I constantly questioned why I was doing it, what were my aims, would it work and was I being too idealistic? These questions were answered when the camp began; they were answered in the smiles of the girls, in the fun, in the knowledge and in the spirit that was in Spirit, as cheesy as that sounds. The positivity of the feedback forms cemented this- ‘I loved all of it, no faults at all’, ‘the activities were amazing’, ‘It was really enjoyable and made new friends and learnt loads’, ‘I enjoyed everything about this camp’ and 9 girls rated the camp as excellent with 90%- 100% and one girl rated it as very good with 75-89%. It took a lot of time, effort and coordinating to organise and run and I am forever indebted to Breda Maguire of Foróige for helping me so much with this project, her confidence in it and her experience were invaluable and to use that old cliché I really couldn’t have done it without her. Laura Wilson was also such a great help on the week; she helped to keep things running smoothly and was a brilliant asset to the team. Others who helped me with this project include: The Greville Arms Hotel, who’s hospitality, generosity and facilities were second to none, Cllr. Niamh Kiernan, Nicky McFadden TD, Ruth Illingworth, Carmel Daly, Annie Mulligan from Profile Hair Design, Ruth Cassidy from the Powder Room, Olive Manning, Gary Hill, Belvedere House and Gardens and my parents and friends, without the support and encouragement of these people the project would not have been the success that it was. Since I applied for the CIF in March, Roisin McGrogan has been incredibly helpful. She has put in so much time and effort for the CIF and has given me excellent well-thought through advice the whole summer for which I am so grateful. I would encourage anyone reading this to apply for the CIF next year or to initiate a project of your own, it is a challenging, rewarding and worthwhile experience which can make a huge difference to yourself in terms of developing skills and improving self-awareness and it can make a huge difference to your community. Go n-eiri an bother libh!
Above: Spirit Participants with Foroige's Drugs and Alcohol Officer Carmel Daly
A Look Back
The Day before (18th July)
The last day of preparations for Spirit was physically spent running around Mullingar shortening my to-do list, while mentally it was spent in a frantic, nervy state- I was constantly questioning myself and the project. Thankfully I had great help from my friend Laura Wilson, who helped to assuage my fears and Breda Maguire from Foroige had done Trojan work to bring the project together.
Day 1- Tuesday 19th of July
The morning of the camp saw Laura, Breda and I running around the Greville finalising bits and pieces, i.e. connecting the projector, setting up the room, organising the nametags etc. By 10:55 there were only 3 girls in the room and it seemed as if my fears were being realised, although within the next 5 minutes our 10 girls were all seated. While I had initially aimed for 20 girls, advertising costs for the local papers would have taken up a considerable amount of the budget so we instead opted to contact local Foroige clubs directly. The number of girls we had turned out to be perfect, we had the chance to get to know the girls and them each other. We started the day with introductions and ice-breakers- the first involved us giving ourselves adjectives beginning with the same first letters of our names, for example, I was Energetic Emily, we all had to remember everyone’s names and adjectives. This game was followed by another involving a ball of wool! We had to hold onto one part of the wool and throw it to another person all the while answering questions about ourselves creating a web. The games went well but were accompanied by nervous giggling and shy answers.
We followed the icebreakers by a slideshow on inspirational women where we tested the girls’ knowledge of some of the figures included, such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Michelle Obama, Mary Robinson, Oprah, JK Rowling, Katie Taylor, Rosa Parks etc. Then we spoke a bit about why we were here, what we were doing, what we hoped to achieve and we ran through the content of the week. I still was unsure as to how all of our activities would be received but we ploughed on and began the preparation for our first activity, a debate. We split the girls into 2 teams and the motion was that ‘size 0 models should be banned from the catwalk’. The girls had 15 minutes to prepare for the debate, each team had 5 minutes on the floor and all members had to speak, they were all nervous but did well and had some good points.
This debate was followed by a talk by local County Councillor Niamh Kiernan, who is only 24 and recently elected, on how she became involved in politics and her views on women in politics. The girls asked her questions about facilities for young people in Mullingar especially a youth café, she said she was fully supportive of plans to open a youth café or centre in Mullingar and that she would do her best to help the girls if they wanted to take steps to create one or push for one. Niamh was excellent and really gave the girls a feel for local politics and made it accessible and for that I’d like to thank her. Nicky McFadden TD spoke after Niamh on her life and how she became involved with politics, she spoke about her roles in the Seanad and now in the Dail, she asked the girls what they thought about having a dress code in the Dail. She also spoke about women in politics and Fine Gaels new policy of making sure political parties have a certain number of women on the ballot sheet. The girls again asked her about youth facilities and she said it is something that she would be very interested in and that they should think about pushing for in the council’s budget next year. Most of the girls knew very little about politics and the roles of our representatives so it was great to see them interacting and engaging with the subject as it was brought to them in an immediate and accessible manner.
We then had lunch provided by the Greville, which was wolfed down! After lunch we went on a walking tour of Mullingar with local historian Ruth Illingworth, she pointed out an interesting building that has been vacant for years which she thought would make an excellent youth centre. We said goodbye to the girls at 3:30 and spent the next while cleaning up and making preparations for the next day.
Day 2- Wednesday 19th July
Breda had warned me that when working with young people it was very difficult to keep the numbers up, so we were pleasantly surprised when all 10 girls turned up the next day. We kicked off the day with a few more icebreakers and then Carmel Daly Drugs and Alcohol Officer from Foroige gave a workshop on the effect of drugs and alcohol on the body. With so much experience working with teenagers, Carmel’s workshop was perfect and the girls really loved it. We then had another great lunch and got ready for the hair and make-up lesson. Originally we were going to have the hairdressers and make-up artist do a quick lesson in the hotel, but the generosity of people never ceases to amaze me, Annie Mulligan the proprietor of 2 of Mullingar’s best salons very thoughtfully moved her clients from the smaller salon (The Salon) to the larger salon (Profile Hair Design) so that the girls would have full access to all of the equipment in the salon. She spoke about confidence and about her business and then showered the girls with compliments as she showed them easy age appropriate hair styles that they could wear everyday- such as the fishtail, the messy bun and beach waves. The girls were split into 2 groups one for make-up and one for hair. The make-up artist Ruth Cassidy, spoke about skin care and the less is more approach to make-up application and she showed them how to apply make-up to suit them and their features. The girls all had the chance to do each others hair and learned a lot. They absolutely loved the day and were delighted with the goodie bags they were given at the end. I cannot thank Annie, Ruth and Irma enough for their generosity of time and expertise.
Day 3- Thursday 20th July
By day 3 we were all comfortable with each other and the girls were being more outspoken and showing their personalities. We started the day with a workshop by local warden Olive Manning , we thought it would be on the local environment but it turned out to be about animal welfare, it was engaging and interesting none the less. This was followed by a photography lesson by local photographer Gary Hill who gave the girls very useful tips when taking photographs and showed them some of his own work which was incredible and really inspired the girls. We then all boarded the bus to Belvedere House and Gardens, a beautiful spot just outside Mullingar where we had a picnic on the shores of Lough Ennell.Then using the cameras they brought, all of the girls sprinted off to try and take the best photo of nature in the hour they were given. The aim of this was to foster an engagement with nature in a creative way. That night all of the girls emailed me their 3 best photos, which I printed out for the next day. I was bowled over by the standard of the photos, they were unbelievable and it was incredibly difficult to choose a winner!!
Day 4- Friday 21st July
Breda facilitated all of the final day which was on leadership and self-awareness. She organised loads of great games and activities, these included a discussion on what makes a great leader, what is leadership and how we can be leaders in our communities. The girls all chose someone they thought represented a good leader, it was interesting that many of the figures were those we had mentioned in the slideshow on the first day. Breda then had sheets prepared with sentences that the girls had to complete such as ‘I make my parents proud when…’, ‘It annoys people when I…’, ‘My best quality is…’, ‘My favourite thing to do is…’ etc. we spread the sheets on the ground and the girls all went around and completed the sentences. They also then completed sheets on themselves and the kind of activities they like to do. All of these activities were accompanied by interesting discussions. We then had lunch and a sing-song, with 2 of the girls singing for the group, Aoife sang Travelling Soldier by the Dixie Chicks and Chloe sang I’m Yours by Jason Mraz, I was blown away by their talent and was glad that they felt comfortable enough to sing for the group of their own accord. We returned to have a murder mystery game which needed teamwork to solve the mystery, the desert island game which challenged perceptions and the egg game- this involved splitting the group into teams and they were given balloons, a sheet, straws and an egg. They had to create a basket for the egg so that if they dropped it, it wouldn’t break. We then played the trade game quickly which again was about teamwork but with a global message. We ended the day with the announcement of the winners of the photography competition; we awarded certificates to all of the girls, they completed their feedback forms and we then had a party with sweets and music.
As the well known saying goes, ‘from small beginnings come great things’. While my beginnings with this project are undoubtedly small and aspirations unquestionably great, I am fully aware of the realities I face in its undertaking. My project- a four day summer camp for girls between the ages of 12-16 held in Mullingar at the end of July supported by Foroige (Ireland’s leading youth organisation)- aims to inspire young women to make a difference in their communities. Through workshops, guest speakers and activities based around the themes of politics and local government, the environment and nature, body confidence and image and leadership I hope that the 20 participants will leave the camp with a greater self-confidence, knowledge and skills base to improve their communities. I hope you enjoy reading my blogs as you follow the course, struggles and progress of my summer adventure!
11/07/2011 One Week to Go!
The countdown to 11 o’clock Tuesday the 19th of July has begun. With just a week to go I will fill you all in on my progress and the layout of the camp-
Tuesday- Local Politics
11-11:30am- Registration, Icebreakers, Slideshow on inspiring women, Content of week.
11:30-12- Talk by local councillor Niamh Kiernan on involvement with politics.
12-1- Debate preparation and debates
1:30- 2:30- Guided tour of Mullingar by local historian Ruth Illingworth
2:30-3:30- Brainstorm about local issues, games
Wednesday- Body Image and Confidence
11:10-1- Workshop by Carmel Daly from Foroige on Drugs and alcohol
1:30-3:30- Hair, Beauty and Make-up demonstrations by Profile Hair Design stylists and Ruth Cassidy make-up artist.
Thursday- Environment and Global issues
11:10-1- Workshop on Environment, Discussion on global awareness, trade game
1:30-2- Workshop on photography by local photographer Gary Hill
2-3:30- Fieldtrip to Belvedere House and Gardens for picnic, games and photography of local nature.
11:10-1- Workshop, games and activities by Breda Maguire from Foroige on Leadership
1:30-3- More games and activities on leadership
3-3:30- Closing ceremony- certificates, slideshow of week, feedback, party!
The camp is 75% organised already, I still need to finalise the debate motions, confirm speakers once more, finalise games, book Belvedere, get a camera for the girls to use in Belvedere, Finalise the slideshow- At this point all of the major work has been done but it is the final pieces that make the jigsaw so I really need to concentrate on getting everything perfected and finalised this week. Full steam ahead!
I just graduated from a degree in business and politics. I am involved with as many political reform organisations as possible and am always on the lookout for creative ways to get involved. Please get in touch if you are interested in the project, I am based in Dublin. I am working on a summer project to formulate a network of young people interested in political reform in Ireland with support from Claiming Our Future and the Trinity College Civic Engagement Office . The network will examine equality issues and take action to try and contribute positively to the changing environment of Irish politics.
26/07/2011: Pragmatics and People
With the event idea decided, this week has been oriented towards getting the practical details sorted. One suggested venue is a place of historical significance and would suit the event well. However as with any movie event there are logistical issues around how to screen the film. These issues may take some time to resolve but I am hoping to secure a venue by the end of the week.
More exciting however is the design of the event. The topics for discussion have many interesting elements and I will be attending the Claiming Our Future Economy for Society meeting on August 10th to listen as they design their November Cork plenary. Some of the areas that they are exploring include; Can the world economy continue to expand at 2 or 3 per cent every year - i.e. double every generation - in a world of limited resources? What should define our standards of well-being and happiness? Are there alternative models for society to economic growth? What happens if there isn’t growth? Where to from here?
They will be using these questions, all linked to the theme of economics for society to design a bigger event and I am hoping to propose my event and structure to them. I hope to receive feedback, recommendations and also to enable them to trial any ideas that they may have in advance of the larger November event.
Of course the main focus of the event is attracting younger people with an interest in these topics. I have started to compile a list of potential attendees. The event is not intellectual or designed to intimidate and most important to Claiming Our Future is that we attract as diverse a group as possible of young people. This means work! Many of the people that I have met and spoken to about the event are interested and enthused by it. Yet as many who have ran events in the past know, the work that goes into getting enough people there, to make the event a success is significant.With just over one month to go the focus at the moment is to orchestrate the logistics, get the venue, the film, food, structure and design sorted. However more important is promoting the event effectively. It is not going to be a large scale event as discussions with huge groups can be difficult. Instead I am looking to approach as many youth groups as possible and ask them to send one or two members that they feel would have an interest in the discussion. I would rather have 30 interested people than 100 that are reluctant to examine the ideas proposed. Also appealing with a certain air of exclusivity, implying that the event attendees are a small but important group (as of course, they are) will hopefully encourage attendance.
I met with Claiming Our Future this week and we have an idea in mind to bring young people together and get them thinking about developing an economy at the service of society. The event would feed into the big Claiming Our Future event in Cork this November on the same topic. It will be a chance to see what younger people think about the topics up for discussion. To see if they would be interested in further participation with Claiming Our Future and to propose actions for young people to take.
There would be three sets of discussions:
How do we define and understand prosperity and progress?
What are the implications of continuing economic growth and consumerism for society, the economy and the environment?
What alternative scenarios are available to us and what can we do to advance these?
I am developing an action plan that will bring this event to fruition. I have an idea for a core group that will work intensively on the event and then a broader group that we could target to attend the event. The first part is securing the practical elements like the location. Then I want to consider how to structure the discussions. However as I have learned from past events promoting the event will be the biggest task! I am excited about the potential of the project.
Essentially the project will start with me meeting the Comhairle na Nog of Waterford on June 29th. A small group of politically active young people from Waterford they are an ideal group to bounce ideas off! I will be discussing with them what could be done to engage young people more actively with the political process and the growing movement for political reform in Ireland. All feedback and resulting ideas will be posted here so keep an eye on the blog.
Last week on the 29th of June the Waterford Comhairle na Nog held a meeting and some of the questions put to them included:
- What do they think about why fewer young people vote and what could be done to encourage voting?
- What do they think about Irish politics, the recession and the latest general election?
- Would they consider meeting with or writing to their TDs?
- Would they consider presenting to an Oireachtas Committee on a specific topic if given the support to do so?
- What do they think about changing parts of the political system in Ireland?
- Do they know of better practice in other countries?
- Have they heard of Claiming Our Future, We the Citizens, 2nd Republic, the 5050 group?
They are working on developing some feedback!
Meanwhile I have been developing a package or workshop that could be used by teen youth groups. The main objective would be to bridge the gaps in their knowledge from CSPE courses in school. Essentially this programme would entail things like a crash course in how politics works, what young people can do and the different ideas that are out there since the recession has increased the desire for political change.
I am hoping to try it out as a workshop or over a longer time frame over the coming weeks with some different youth groups around Dublin. Feel free to email me if you have any interest. The Primetime Special about We the Citizens last night, I would like to think, is the beginning of a wider debate about many areas of Irish politics. This debate could hopefully include the voices of Irish young people. I will certainly write more about my experiences over the coming weeks so keep an eye on the blog!