We are “Get Lippy” a local area Comhairle na nÓg youth group from Ballinasloe, Co. Galway. We meet every Tuesday evening in Marina Point, Ballinasloe and are supported by Youth Work Ireland Galway. We all come from different areas of East Galway – from Mountbellew to Portumna and of course Ballinasloe Town. Each week we discuss different topics which are important to young people around this area and how we can make a positive change in our communities. We also learn new skills, meet new people, play games and share some food.
Every year we hold a County Galway Annual General Meeting, where we invite schools from all over Galway to attend. At the end of the day, participants vote on a topic for all Comhairli in Galway to work on for the following year. In 2017 the topic chosen was ‘Challenging Prejudice’.
Prejudice means pre-judging someone or having negative feelings towards someone based on their membership of a social group. Prejudice can occur in relation to a person’s age, culture/ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, race, economic status or disability. While discussing this as a youth group we found that we have all experienced or witnessed prejudice and discrimination in our schools, peer groups and communities. As a committee, we feel that prejudice is a global issue and should not be passed off as a joke. We felt that young people are not aware and are not taught how to reflect on their own prejudices. We wanted to do something to help guide young people to be more aware of their prejudicial thoughts, how to overcome them and how to challenge them among their peers.
In 2018, we held two events inviting secondary school students from all over East Galway and County Galway to participate in workshops Challenging Prejudice. We spoke with approximately one hundred and fifteen young people.
For our first event we helped clarify what was meant by terms such as: stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination. We found that coming into this workshop most young people could not clearly define these terms.
We followed this workshop with some practical drama scenarios, created by our group. We used a forum theatre style and interactive learning to provide real life solutions and ways to challenge prejudice in both schools and communities.
For our second event our group linked in with ‘Theatre For Change’, a Galway based Community Theatre group in order to perfect our interactive drama pieces. We found that this vastly improved the accessibility of our drama piece for participants.