To mark the International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and the European-wide Action Week against Racism, the National Youth Council of Ireland hosted “Diversity Rocks!” in several youth work organisations in April and May 2010. The workshop were organised jointly between the Development Education and Intercultural programmes of NYCI highlighting the theme ofpromoting the value of diversity and challenging negative attitudes and discrimination.
The “Diversity Rocks!” events were half-day workshops held with youth leaders to look at how diversity is a strength in their local community. In NYCI’s training and contact with youth organisations, staff and volunteers have expressed a need to develop their skills and activities to address issues of discrimination and diversity which arise in their work. The workshop used interactive games and exercises, as well as visual arts, to develop participants’ awareness and knowledge of issues related to promoting diversity and tackling discrimination, and to develop skills needed when dealing with these issues among the young people they work with and in the community where they live.
The workshops took place with youth leaders, volunteers, members of an Garda Síochána, community workers, intercultural officers and youth work students in Tallaght Youth Service (TYS), Foróige (Saturday 17 April) in Brookfield Youth & Community Centre; Waterford Regional Youth Service, SHY Centre in St. John’s Park (Wednesday 5 May); and in Swords/Baldoyle Youth Service in St. Finian’s Rivervally Community Centre (Monday 10 May).
The workshops were co-facilitated by Jenny MacDonald and Blanka Cerna of Desert Fish Productions, and Elaine Mahon and Anne Walsh of NYCI. The fun methodologies were well-received by all members of the groups, involving warm-up and introductory activities, activities specifically exploring racism and discrimination, and drama-based activities including frozen images and story-telling. By the end of the workshop all participants felt comfortable and confident to even try some forum theatre scenes!
Participants expressed their positive experience of the workshop in the evaluations:
“The most useful aspect of the session was how o get a group to role-play and get very comfortable with each other” (Participant, Tallaght)
“It was very practical, hands-on, inclusive and empowering! I really enjoyed the problem-solving approach through play and acting!” (Participant, Tallaght)
“The actual practical tools for working with young people were very useful, it wasn’t just ‘all talk’ or sitting around listening!” (Participant, Waterford)
“I enjoyed every part of the session!” (Participant, Swords/Baldoyle)
At the end of each workshop, the participants created a collage on a large pre-prepared jigsaw-template using images of similarity and difference to highlight the wording ‘Diversity Rocks!’ The participants then created their own template with various slogans: ‘Spirit of Tallaght’ in TYS, Foróige; ‘Our Club’ in Waterford Youth Service, and ‘Understanding the Challenge/Challenge the Understanding’ in Swords/Baldoyle Youth Service. The participants then divided up the template and took one jigsaw-piece away to do with their youth group. All pieces were then ‘reunited’ and displayed publicly in each community.
“In Tallaght, for instance, the jigsaw was completed by audience members and displayed on Sunday 23 May 2010 at the ‘No Strings Attached’ puppet show performed by “d Kreative Kidz” youth arts group as part of the Africa Day celebrations. The event was hosted at Kiltalown House in Jobstown, Tallaght.
The show consisted of three short traditional African folktales. The jigsaw pieces were used interactively on the floor with the young members of the audience and their parents, and the young people had to try to work out the message on it. The show was attended by approximately 60 audience members of Africa, Irish, South American and Polish backgrounds”. (Annette Wooley, Youth worker, Tallaght)
Young people design the ‘Spirit of Tallaght’ jigsaw created by Tallaght Youth Service, Foróige on Africa Day 2010
These photographs were taken with the permission of all participants, and NYCI thanks the youth organisations involved for hosting the events.