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Clare Comhairle na nÓg

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Current topic

Clare Comhairle have been working on the topic of Cyber Safety for the past two years and have achieved massive successes on the back of this.  Cyber Safety has been a central part of their work plan since 2015 and their ideas on online safety and inappropriate sharing have been incorporated into the new government policy. On Wed 11th July 2018, six representatives travelled to Dublin on invitation from the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, who along with several Government Ministers, launched the Government’s Action Plan for Online Safety. It’s the first plan of its kind in Ireland and was drawn up following engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, including at the Open Policy Debate held in March, and the recent report of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children and Youth Affairs. Clare Comhairle members were involved in both of this processes and have had the opportunity to firmly put their stamp on national government policy and to bring about changes that will influence all our lives.

The involvement of Clare Comhairle members in these events, and the subsequent invitation to attend and MC the launch was extended on foot of their mentoring programme on Cyber safety with McAfee. Members have become ambassadors for McAfee in Cork and have been involved in delivering a workshop to the Professional Master of Education class of NUIG.  Their work on cyber safety grew out of their own research and that of Clare Youth Service “Younger Voices” forum, surveys and focus groups run by youth workers.

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children & Youth Affairs presentation: 
On 7th February 2018 two members Jody and Fearghal presented at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children & Youth Affairs. They discussed their projects on Cyber Security & Safety for children & young people. They talked about their cyber safety programme, run in partnership with McAfee, and their sexting workshop, co-run with Samfés, the Icelandic equivalent of Comhairle, through an Erasmus+ exchange with Iceland. In 2017 they hosted a “Sexting Peer Education Workshop”, based on an initiative by Samfés. Their presentation follows new research showing that almost half of Irish teenagers in their final year at school say they have participated in sexting, which is defined as the sharing of sexual text, video, and photographic content using phone, social networks, apps and other technologies. The study shows that sexting activity increased progressively through each year of second-level education.

The presenters also talked about the outcome of a Cyber Safety Workshop for students which was designed by McAfee, facilitated by Clare Youth Service and funded by Clare Local Development Company in 2016 and 2017. 752 young people, mainly first year students, took part in the programme in schools across Clare. Their presentations received a lot of media coverage that day.

Following on from this, Jody and Fearghal participated in an Open Policy Debate on Online Safety in Royal Hospital Kilmainham on 8th March. You can read more about this here: 

We are also researching the issues of Healthcare and Sport equality as secondary topics.


Work already completed

Over the past two years Clare Comhairle na nÓg have worked on a wide range of topics including positive mental health, relationships and sexuality with an emphasis on online activity, and youth democracy. We produced a film which premiered on an exchange to the Icelandic Youth Parliament in October 2016. During the exchange, we examined the idea of youth democracy, and presented a workshop based on the work of Clare Comhairle over the past two years, which has been focused on mental health, and sexual health and relationships.

We also showed off our Irish dancing skills to the Icelandic Youth Parliament federation, and even taught the natives, and other visiting students a few steps.

In addition, we organised Mental Health & Art Workshops; and ran the now annual “Great Onesie Run” in Clare, promoting other worthwhile charities and bringing a smile to peoples’ faces.
All the resources produced have been distributed to schools and youth clubs in Clare.

Clare Comhairle na nÓg’s primary topic for 2015 was Relationships and Sexuality Education, with special reference to the growing availability of pornography. We worked on developing a ‘think before you view’ app or similar product to ensure that young people are aware that they cannot ‘unview’ a video download. We also worked on a creative Cyber-Safety project, to  raise awareness with the general public, adults and youth on how much of their personal information is open to public viewing.

We also hosted the second annual ‘Onesie Run’, as part of the ‘Be at Onesie with Yourself’ Campaign to continue our work on promoting positive mental health.
In 2014 Clare Comhairle na nÓg worked on the topic of Positive Mental Health, with particular reference to young people. We ran a ‘Be at Onesie with Yourself’ Campaign to promote awareness of the importance of positive mental health. This included “The Great Onesie Run” in five Clare towns promoting Pieta House and Cycle Against Suicide, Zorbing in a Onesie, the Limerick Pride Parade in Onesies and lots more besides.

We also worked on the topic of Relationships and Sexuality Education, as it applies to young people, and adapted a number of resources for use in schools and youth clubs in Clare. We produced two films, carried out a fitness programme, and ran LGBT awareness workshops. All the resources produced have been sent to schools and youth clubs in Clare. We had so much fun, despite the it being a lot of work.

 

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