What’s next? – Shonagh Smith
An amazing summer. The best I will possibly ever have. For many reasons, I never wanted it to come to an end. I didn't want to say goodbye to the city of joy they call Kolkata, the incredible and awe-inspiring mentors, the most energetic, engaging children and the most loving, motivating bunch that I grew to call family. But one of the major reasons I didn't want to ever come home was because I didn't want this incredible feeling to ever disappear. I felt inspired, motivated and energized the whole summer. But I couldn't, unfortunately, stay any longer.
So what now? What's next? How do I continue to feel motivated and inspired? After working with the INCREDIBLE non-profit social communications organisation The Thoughtshop Foundation, I have been inspired more than ever to create change and deal with social issues here in Ireland.
The Thoughtshop Foundation work towards so many SDG's, for example, gender equality, good health and well-being and quality education. They are amazing. They have a broad curricular when it comes to education. They run classes in the communities for children and youth mentors to improve their English (what we were doing), as well as educating the children on many social issues such as child rights, women's rights and gender equality, to name a few. The quality of education that they provide is outstanding. They are inclusive of everyone in society. I am so lucky to have seen the work that they do on a daily basis.
One afternoon in the Thoughtshop office, the directors showed us some of the tools and booklets they use in the communities to educate children and teenagers. These tools focused on sexual education and relationships. They were incredible. They were so educational. I never saw anything like that in my school. If Irish schools had access to these we would be doing so well. It got us thinking.
Why didn't we get this education? Why don't ALL Irish schools educate teenagers on consent, LGBTQ+ issues, contraception etc? Could we help to change this and if so what could we do?
One night on the back of an auto myself and my teaching partner started to brainstorm. Could we be the connection between Thoughtshop and Irish schools? We continued to brainstorm and grow this idea all the way home to Ireland. Then at our return weekend, the conversation came up. It turns out everyone on the team was brainstorming the same ideas. We all thought about it. We all felt that this would be incredible for Irish teens. We couldn't quite grasp why this wasn't already a thing in the Irish education system, we couldn't understand how there weren't more people campaigning for this incredibly important subject to be taught in Ireland.
Now we have decided to all come together and are in the extremely early stages of trying to develop some kind of secular workshop around sexual education targeted at secondary schools. We are so passionate about this idea; we feel strongly that children need and deserve quality education on these topics. We are so motivated and inspired by the incredible people we met in Kolkata. There is a fire in our bellies and we are raring to go. I am so happy to still feel so motivated and inspired. I am surrounded by amazing people who share the same drive to create change and that makes me so genuinely happy.
Name: Shonagh Smith