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(Photo: UNICEF Ireland, It’s About Us Campaign)

It’s About Us is a workshop for 3rd year student teachers and primary school students on April 7th, 2016 at St Patrick’s College (DCU) in the Quadrangle Courtyard Garden from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm. The workshop is part of a week long storytelling festival at St. Patrick’s College. 

The title of the workshop is taken from a UNICEF (Ireland) campaign of the same name https://www.unicef.ie/itsaboutus/ with the slogan “It’s Our World, Let’s Change it Together”. The workshop will be facilitated by Pamela Whitaker of Groundswell, http://www.groundswell.ie who works in the areas of environmental education, arts and health and art therapy. 

The theme of the workshop is championing social change. The It’s About Us UNICEF campaign is focussed on children and young people becoming social activists in relation to issues that affect their lives and the lives of their peers throughout the world. “We are voicing our concerns and initiating action, not only to influence the present but also to take responsibility for our shared future” (Dublin Declaration of Children and Youth 2014). The It’s About Us theme will help participants consider social activism as a way to connect their story to the story of others. It offers an introduction to the topic of social campaigning for children and young people.

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(Photos: Activate Toolkit, UNICEF and The Blackthorns Eco Tribe, St. Peter’s NS, Dromiskin, County Louth)

A key reference in the workshop’s activities is an environmental initiative in County Louth called the Eco Tribes Challenge. The Eco Tribes Challenge encourages primary school children and Tidy Towns volunteers to transform neglected landscapes into biodiversity gardens that not only make nature, but develop community networks of cooperation and inclusion. The Eco Tribes Challenge has been operating for four years and a history of the project can be accessed by searching Eco Tribes or clicking the link: https://mutualgroundtraining.wordpress.com

In 2016 nine schools are involved in the Eco Tribes project each developing a medieval garden (this year’s theme) along with a public event that must enact a community uprising. 

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(Photo: The Yew Tubers Eco Tribe, Scoil Bhride NS, Dunleer, County Louth)

Our stories can impact the world. We can begin by talking about our values, beliefs and concerns as a way to develop acts of service that make the world a better place. The Eco Tribes Challenge is one way children are improving the local landscape through gardens that work to bring people together in a crusade to transform environmental apathy. Each Eco Tribe develops an unique identity profile, a tag (a graffiti like signature) and logo to promote both their community garden and environmental activities.

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(Photo: An Eco Tribes Challenge Public Event, Dromiskin, County Louth)

During our April 7th workshop we will re-enact some of the activities performed during Eco Tribes public events. We will also make a Protest Garden and try out guerrilla gardening a tactic used by Eco Tribes to fight neglect through unauthorised planting. Each student teacher will work with a primary school student throughout the workshop and develop a partnership based on cooperation, creativity and action.

The workshop will offer an opportunity for participants to explore how it feels to create a public demonstration as a pop-up event.

Preparation for All Participants (Student Teachers and Primary School Students)

All participants must review the It’s About Us UNICEF website http://www.unicef.ie/itsaboutus/

Scroll down the It’s About Us website to view the Global Goals poster, Our Priorities (Issues to Build a Better World as voted by Irish students), the Dublin Declaration on Children and Youth 2014, and most importantly the Profile Cards which highlight young peoples’ stories from around the world through a series of short videos and accompanying discussion cards.

Find a partner and talk about social issues that are important to you both. Share your issues as part of a large group discussion amongst your classmates.

Think about the world around you (your home, community, city, county, country). Discuss how particular social issues relate to your own perspectives, experiences, and views of the world.  What plans of action would you both develop to change the world around you?

Each participant must wear a stylised hoodie during the workshop

Each participant’s hoodie can be painted with a particular design, drawn upon with permanent markers, and personalised with trimmings, embellishments or appliqués. A trip to Hickeys (or similar sewing/craft store) will give you ideas regarding how to revamp your hoodie. The designs can relate to graffiti, a nickname, a personal logo, or your overall sense of personal style, etc. The hoodies must be stylised before April 7th and worn to the It’s About Us workshop.