Comhairle na nÓg have put together this brilliant little film all about Children’s Rights. If you’re under 18, all the rights described in this video apply to you, as laid out by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The video features loads of young people acting out the rights laid out by the convention. It’s really funny, and even more informative.
Speaking of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is 25 years old this year, and has been protecting children and young people all over the world since November 1989. It was brought into effect in Ireland in September 1992.
For more information on Comhairle na nÓg, check out their website here. For more details on your rights as laid out by this convention, The Office of the Children’s Ombudsman have launched this amazingly handy little app called ItsYourRight, which compiles all your rights as granted by the UN in one handy location on your phone or iPad. Cool, right?
“Hey mum, did you see the new trees?!”
“On the green and also all around the estate!”
So off they went to see the new trees. 37 new trees planted all around their estate. All the neighbours were talking about it, and everybody was excited.
One week later:
“Hey mum, did you see somebody broke some off the branches from the trees in our estate, and some of the trees in the next door estate have been broken in half!”
“No, I did not, are you serious?”
“Come. I’ll show you”
So of we went to see the broken trees. Five of the newly planted trees in bits! All the neighbours were talking about it, and everybody was disappointed.
Two weeks later:
“Hey mum we need to do something about the trees, if we do not do something now, there is not going to be a tree left after summer!”
“So, what can we do?”
“We need to get people involved, we need to do something!”
“Okay, you guys can do something and we will support you”
Four weeks later, 16-year-old brothers Juvan and Christivan Maritz applied and received a small Superhero fund from SpunOut.ie to make a difference in their local community. Here is how they got on with their project:
They designed a leaflet and a registration form and distributed it to more than 80 homes in the estate. They wrote to 14 people asking for support or a contribution towards their project. These people included two local politicians, a community project, the Gardaí, the local Council, local print media and local small businesses.
Their idea was to create community awareness and initiate a neighbourhood community policing system to keep and eye on the newly planted trees and general vandalism in the communal area of the Balruddery Wood estate. They also planned a big community festival on the green. 23 homes (more than 30%) signed up for the project, with more than 40 people confirmed for the Green Festival.
On 30 April 2011, at 5pm, the festival took place. The local pub, Balrothery Inn, sponsored burgers, soft drinks and crisps. Tesco Balbriggan also provided party goodies and committed to sponsor a signpost to promote the project.
“Ladies, gentleman and kids. You are very welcome at the launch of our Superhero project sponsored by SpunOut.ie. SpunOut.ie is Ireland's national youth project. Myself and Christivan applied for a small [fund] to make a difference in our community. We are one from eleven projects all over Ireland that are trying to make a difference in our community. We are gathered here today to celebrate our community spirit. We with 10 other projects were selected out of hundreds of applications to make people aware of caring for our environment. We are also concerned about anti-social behaviour, especially the breaking of branches of our newly planted trees and vandalism in our estate.
"We do not have an easy solution, all that we can offer is to create awareness and encourage everybody in the estate to address vandalism and anti-social behaviour. We have invited our community Guards. If you have any questions please feel free to approach them at any time of the day.
“To conclude, I want to say a special thanks to our sponsors Spunout.ie. Balrothery Inn kindly sponsored the burgers, crisps and soft drinks. Thank you Brendan. To Ann O’Brien from Tesco, who sponsored the sweets and other goodies. Today we can also announce that Tesco gave their commitment to sponsor a signpost that will promote the TreeCops Project. This signpost will be displayed at the entrance of this estate and will be a reminder to all that live here as well as guests that we are serious about our trees!
“Thank you for your attendance and special thanks to our community Guards: Gráinne and Kate, for coming down today. Enjoy the burgers and the rest of the day. Then lastly we are now going to plant a tree if the children would like to help they are most welcome.”
The festival was a huge success with lots of new ideas shared between neighbours. Three more project ideas emerged from the community gathering. One is to have street safety awareness training for the children of the estate in conjunction with the Community Guards; another one is to start a petition to the developers to put up a fence at the road side of the green (hopefully local politicians will support us in this regard as it is long outstanding); and the final one is to advocate for seating benches on the green.
All in all, the TreeCops Project was a huge success!
Activism = Campaigning = Organising = Community = Protesting = Building Alternatives = Challenging = Rethinking = Creating
We are all aware of the problems that require our urgent love and attention, both the local and the global; poverty, injustice, the environment, health, wars, resource distribution, politics and yes the global economic model to name but a few. But what I want to deal with here is the issue of power, and more specifically of us all taking ownership of our own power.
We do not live ‘atomic’ separate existences. Even the most reclusive of people live within networks of culture, of law, of infrastructure, of ideas, of education, of politics, and of the systems that deliver and disperse resources. These systems are all created by the actions of humans. This might seem a very obvious thing to say so maybe by now you are asking what on earth I am on about? I’m talking about how individuals and groups can affect these man-made systems and structures. In short, I’m talking about Activism.
The word activism is often taken as a synonym for ‘protest’ but if we use that shorthand explanation it can fool us into thinking that ‘Activism’ is not something we need to concern ourselves with. Not True! We are all ‘active’ in some way or another to create or sustain the types of systems we live in:
When we ignore or abdicate from something as crucial as our place in the world or our community and how we engage with it, we give others permission to engineer our society for us. By allowing others to ‘create society for me’ we are engaging in what we think is harmless ‘inactivity’ but actually manifests itself as a support for things as they are. To take the fitness analogy, not taking control of one’s diet and exercise will have a direct effect on one’s body. Not taking action on the issues that concern you will also have an effect on your society.
Think for a minute of the many things that we take for granted today in Ireland as rights or entitlements, for example weekends or days off from work, voting rights for women, the right not to be a slave, the right to have sex only by choice, the right not to be sentenced to death, or the right to choose our own interests and political affiliations to name just a few.
None of these ‘rights’ are things that were donated or asked for by some generous and wise benefactors. These are all things that people sometime somewhere saw as necessary. They imagined how they would look and function, and then came together to achieve them. I am certain that these people argued, disagreed, conceded and perhaps eventually settled for less than their ideals. We know though, that they continued to struggle and work to get these rights for the very reason that we now have the luxury of taking some of them for granted (though we shouldn’t!).
This work of achieving such freedoms took place over generations, and continued in the face of hardship and resistance. But those involved, to use a euphemism ‘carried the flame’ until these ideas became so firmly entrenched in our culture, that in some shape or form (and imperfect though their realisation might still be) these rights all became socially, legally and culturally deemed as the ‘norm’.
This does not mean that no-one here is oppressed or that we have perfect gender equality, but it does mean that our culture and institutions recognise these as things to which people are entitled; ‘standards’ is a useful word to describe them and that it is recognised as either deviance or criminality when these rights are not respected.
To summarise what I am saying here I will use a quote from anthropologist, Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; it’s the only thing that ever has.’’
In my opinion, getting involved with issues that concern you is one of the most important things a young person can begin to do. Have you ever heard about an event in history, or heard something in the news that made you really angry or upset? Something that really frustrated you, because you felt like you couldn’t do anything about it?
Well, getting involved with organisations like Amnesty International or Spunout.ie is one way for you to make a substantial difference. Whether you’re signing a petition, or helping out with a demonstration, there’s nothing better than the feeling that you can help change those issues that frustrate you.
And the changes can be substantial. You only need to look at a handful of success stories on Amnesty’s website to know that speaking out for other people, as a group/organisation, works: Aung San Suu Kyi was finally freed in 2010 after over 15 years under house arrest – thanks to thousands of people demanding her release. In 2011, Illinois banned the death penalty.
Many human rights activists and prisoners of conscience (e.g. Emadeddin Baghi, Mao Hengfeng) have been released due to petitions, letters of appeal, demonstrations and protests carried out by Amnesty International and other organisations with similar motives.
Although some of these achievements may seem small in the grand scheme of things, one small victory can have a ripple effect.
So, my advice to young people in Ireland is to use your voice. Don’t be afraid to say what you feel, even if you’re worried about sounding silly sometimes. You may be surprised at the respect you’ll earn from people (whether it’s peers or adults) from simply being outspoken. You may also be surprised at how one person or group of people, if they’re determined enough, can help change the world. Do not be mute.
Remember these sayings:
”Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say”. - William Shakespeare
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. - Mary Mead
Check out our factsheets and opinion pieces on engaging in society. This is a key area that the SpunOut Action Panel has prioritised for 2013.
Tips to help you take action and make a positive difference.
Ireland is a democracy, which means the people elect their representatives and government by means of secret ballot.
Joining a political party means that you are registering with a political party and letting them and the world know that you generally support their causes and activates.
One SpunOutter gives her opinions on whether the voting age should be lowered to 16.
Ireland is a constitutional democracy (you’ve lost me already SpunOut!). Well, this basically means that we get to have a say in who runs our country and what the laws of the land are.
The Know Your Rights information packs are provided by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL). They are a series of booklets designed to inform people about their rights, which the ICCL has rolled out as part of its Know Your Rights public information project. The booklet is designed to inform the general public, in clear and accessible language, of their rights in the areas of Garda search powers, arrest, interview, detention, provision of bodily samples and public order.
The State gets its power from the People of Ireland through the Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann). The Constitution sets out some of the rights of people who live in Ireland. We also have rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). All agents of the State, including An Garda Síochána, must act in line with the Constitution and the ECHR.
The Constitution is interpreted by the courts and is supplemented by more detailed laws, which must also be in line with the Constitution. The law must also follow the ECHR and the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Gardaí must act according to court rulings and legislation, otherwise they may be breaking the law.
If you have any doubts about the way you have been treated by the Gardaí, if they have interfered with any of your rights, you should contact a solicitor.
If you want to let it go and enjoy some fantastic films while you're at it then you'd better head into the west for the the 20th Junior Galway Film Fleadh.
The festival kicks off on November 12th in Galway city and the programme is jam packed with events and screenings that'll keep every type of film fan happy.
As always, there'll be a strong World Cinema programme thanks to a collaboration with IFI Education. You can expect to see the always popular French feature, two very different German movies, and an affecting Spanish drama from Guatemala about three young immigrants’ journey to America.
There'll be plenty of work by some talented young people on show too: The Future Filmmakers Shorts Showcases will screen the very best in student and young people’s short films from all around Ireland.
Those with the cúpla focal can enjoy a selection of Irish language screenings including the highly acclaimed Torthai na Daoirse. The film focuses on the Dunnes Stores apartheid strikers and won the Best Documentary award at the 26th Galway Film Fleadh.
The annual Story Pitching competition is still open for entries for any story ideas from under 18 year olds. Everyone is invited to attend the Story Pitching Finals and hear the pitches performed on Thursday 13th November at 12.30pm in the Town Hall Theatre.
Fans of Disney's smash hit film Frozen are in for a real treat though, because the Fleadh will close with a massive sing-a-long screening and character costume contest. Everyone is invited to come dressed as his or her favourite character from Frozen - or any Disney character - and sing their hearts out to the lyrics, which play on screen. Prizes will be awarded for best costumes and loudest singers!
Competitions, discussions and workshops with filmmakers are just some of the highlights from the programme, which you can view in full at the Film Fleadh's official website. Copies of the programme are also available in locations around Galway city, including Easons and Charlie Byrne's Bookshop.
Ever heard of the Order of Malta Ambulance Corps? Every year, many young Irish people between the ages of 10 and 16 join the ranks of the voluntary organisation as Cadets.
These Cadets become actively involved in the community helping vulnerable groups like the elderly and people with disabilities, but they're also trained in basic like saving skills including First Aid, CPR and Home Nursing.
Having those skills can make a huge difference to their own lives too. Just ask 16-year-old Ballinrobe girl Eimear Morrin. She used them to save her mother's life.
Eimear was at home and came downstairs to discover her mother lying unconscious in the kitchen. She'd had a brain aneurysm and wasn't in a good way but, thanks to her daughter's quick thinking, she survived.
"I knew straight away to open her airways and checked her pulse and we were able to perform CPR, which I had learned through the training", she explains. "Never underestimate the value of getting the Order of Malta."
Eimear is just one of the many Cadets who've gained invaluable skills through the Order of Malta training and she's now become something of a mascot for their organisation. Her story has been entered into the Better Together video awards in the hopes of raising awareness about what the organisation does and encouraging more young people to follow in her footsteps.
You can vote for her story here.
For more information on The Order of Malta be sure to check out their official website.
Do you have a few unwanted bras hidden at the back of your underwear drawer? Well, crack 'em out because they could actually do a whole lot of good this Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
The Marie Keating Foundation is appealing for girls and women across the nation to donate their unwanted undies in the name of breast cancer research. It doesn't matter what size, shape, colour or condition they're in either.
For every bra donated they'll receive €1 from Roche Products (Ireland) Limited, who are sponsoring the Give Your Bra for Breast Cancer campaign. All the proceeds raised will go towards the Foundation's work to raise awareness about the symptoms and signs of cancer and the healthy lifestyle changes that we can all make to help prevent it.
Getting involved in the campaign is really easy and there are plenty of different options available.
You can donate your bra directly at one of the nationwide drop-off points listed on the Foundation's website or send it by post to Bras for Breast Cancer, 5th Floor, Huguenot House, 35 - 38 Stephens Green, Dublin 2. You can send in as many as you want so be sure to ask your friends and family if they've any spare undies they'd like to throw in the envelope.
If you want to organise a larger collection in your office, school, shop or community centre then you can e-mail Fiona Sullivan (email@example.com) for more details about posters, collection labels and bra drop bins.
There's always the option of hosting a bit of a bra drop party too. For details about hosting a Girls Night In or to get your hands on a free Girls Night In pack you can contact the very same Fiona Sullivan or give the foundation a buzz on 01 628 3728.
And to think you thought that old off-colour white bra would never be of use again?
For more information on the campaign be sure to check out the Marie Keating Foundation's official website, and if you want to know how to do what's best for your breasts be sure to check out these handy tips.
If you’ve got an interest in highlighting young people’s mental health-related issues through film, you’ve got exactly three months to perfect your masterpiece for the CAST 2014/5 Film Festival.
Submissions for completed projects close on January 15, 2015, so now’s the perfect time to encourage your mates from school, college or the youth club to get filming! According to the organisers, the festival is a “call to action” for youth groups, and they want to get schools and youth organisations to produce films that “shed light on a social issue”, and offer potential solutions to the issue mentioned.
The application criteria are pretty broad, which means that your film can be a documentary, a work of fiction, or a “visually creative film” as you see fit. It should look to highlight relevant resources available in your local area, and it must:
The event itself is great fun, and it’s gone from strength to strength in recent years. Last year’s festival showcased 15 short films, and was attended by the now Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald. Tickets are expected to be around €18, and that includes a two-course meal along with a souvenir red carpet photo. If you fancy yourself to be an aspiring Steven Spielberg with a great idea to publicise, get entering by clicking here.
Bloggger, Niamh, chats to Clara Rose about her career and work as a music therapist.
You hold a Bachelor of Music from Maynooth and went on to complete a two year Music Therapy Masters at the Irish World Academy of Music & Dance in UL. Was this all a 'master plan' or made up was you went along?
I wouldn’t call it a ‘master plan’ (does anyone have one of those?) But here is how it all happened:
When I was in 6th year in school and thinking about what to study in University I had a few ideas; Music, Film Studies, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy and Marine Biology were all on my CAO form.
I went for the BMus (Bachelor of Music) interview in Maynooth and began studying ‘pure music’. At this point I didn’t even know ‘Music Therapy’ existed. Then in third year I studied a Music Therapy module. I did some research into the area and the courses on offer. I became very interested in pursuing a Masters in Music Therapy from UL. After my degree I took a year out to get experience for the Masters in UL.
Had you always planned to study Music Therapy? Why did you decide to venture into that particular field?
Not at all, at the end of second year in my Music Degree I was reading the module list to make choices for third year and spotted a module in ‘Music Therapy’.
I began to get excited. When I saw this I thought; ‘What is Music Therapy? This actually exists?! It sounds like the PERFECT career for me!’ I began to research it and found that the only course in Ireland was the Masters in UL (this is still the only Music Therapy course offered in Ireland). You had to have either a Music or Psychology Degree and ‘relevant experience’ in the field of healthcare to apply.
I had the music degree and I kind of had the healthcare experience; my brother, Daniel, had Cerebral Palsy and loved music passionately. It was his way of communicating with the world. This really informed my experience of music, acting as a way of ‘promoting health’ in a person – singing with my brother, listening to music with him and dancing with him. It allowed him to ‘be’ in the world and to connect with others in a very special way.
After my degree I took a year out to ‘get experience’ to apply for the Masters. I got a job as a care assistant in a residential service for adults with disabilities. I really enjoyed this work and as a result, knew I was interested in working in the healthcare field as a music therapist.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians?
Being a musician is not an easy job. You HAVE to love music as the rest of what it involves can be challenging, difficult, pride-swallowing work!
Being a musician means:
What advice would you give to students who are trying to become music therapists?
The first step is to ask yourself the following questions:
If the answer is Yes, then here are the steps:
What is a typical day for you?
I work four days a week as a music therapist. I work as a musician at weekends. Every day is different! Generally on my ‘Music Therapy Days’ I travel to two to three services per day, running group and individual music therapy sessions with clients. These services range from disability services, nursing homes and a hospital. In a week I see up to 100 clients. The earliest I start work is 10am, the latest I finish work is 8.30pm. I usually ‘dine’ in my car at lunchtime but if I’m lucky I might go to a coffee shop. On my late finishing days I have a big lunch and a late dinner. Always make time for food.
On a Friday I do Music Therapy or Music administration: sending emails, phone-calls, Music Therapy client assessments, post CDs, update ‘Clara Rose’ website, practice music or write songs. Some weekends I am off and others are busy with gigs. I tour around Ireland solo or with my band and in Europe. I toured Europe solo twice in 2014.
In regards to music therapy, what are the most challenging and rewarding elements to your job?
What was your career defining moment?
Music Therapy: September 2014: securing a HSE funded post at a Hospital and presenting about Music Therapy to the clinical team (Doctors, consultants, head nurses, therapists).
Music – there has been a few…
Is there anything I didn't ask you that you would like the readers to know?
As the saying goes; “If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life”. This is definitely true for me – I absolutely love what I do, I’ve been very lucky in life to have the gift of music and in all areas of my work I get to share this gift. I’m so grateful for this. As they say, ‘If you follow your heart, your dreams are never far behind’!
Figures released by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) show that many young people here are finding it difficult to “make ends meet”, while a quarter of Irish young people are unable to move out of their family home due to cuts in the Jobseekers’ Allowance.
The Government’s budget announcement last year saw welfare benefits for unemployed people under the age of 26 slashed by 30%, with 18-24 year-olds earning just €100 a week at the basic rate. According to NYCI’s findings, 67% of survey respondents strongly disagreed with those cuts, and they’re calling on the Government to reinstate the adult rate of €188 across the board.
Budget 2015, details of which were released today, is being hailed as progressive by the Government as there are no major new tax increases or service cuts for the first time since the country slipped into recession.
However, groups such as NYCI believe that there still isn’t enough being done to help Ireland’s younger generations gain a stable financial footing in the face of continued cuts to supports, as well as increases to student contribution fees for college.
Despite our improving national fortunes, the results come as little surprise given previous reports this year which indicated that 42% of Irish people aged 18-29 still live with their parents. More shockingly, the same study, which was released by the NYCI in March, detailed that 51% of young people had difficulty in accessing healthcare due to the associated costs, while it’s estimated that Ireland has lost close to 10% of its young people to emigration since 2007.