Scoil Dara pupils launch GAA's 'Responding to Racism' campaign
By John Harrington
Last week, transition year students from Scoil Dara Secondary school in Kilcock, Co. Kildare, helped launch the GAA’s ‘Responding to Racism’ educational and awareness campaign.
The campaign, which includes both education and procedures to follow should any incidents arise in GAA clubs, has been developed by GAA Diversity and Inclusion officer Geraldine McTavish in collaboration with Sports Against Racism Ireland (SARI).
The Scoil Dara TY students have been working on their own anti-racism campaign as part of their Young Social Innovators programme so it was apt they should be on hand to help launch the GAA’s ‘Responding to Racism campaign’.
"Young Social Innovators is a programme that's aimed at secondary schools and youth clubs and what it does is it encourages young people to change something for the positive,” says Scoil Dara teacher, Lucy Jones.
“Our guys are big into sport and wanted to change something positive in sport. Eventually they settled on racism and decided that they wanted to raise awareness of the racism going on in sport and to try and change that.
“So, they researched it and sent a survey around the school and talked to some of their peers and made interviews and they were getting really excited about it. We decided for our awareness campaign that it might be quite good to see if we could get some photographs taken in Croke Park.
“One of my students rang Croke Park just to see if we could get a booking and then he came to me and said, 'Miss, they want to talk to you'. I just assumed it was because they needed to talk to a teacher to make sure it wasn't all just a great, big joke.
“When I called Geraldine McTavish back she told me that they were actually doing their own programme on racism in sport and the two had coincided really nicely because they'd done a pilot project and were rolling it out and it was ready to go.
“She asked if the kids would like to come up and help launch it. Of course, they were thrilled.”
The GAA’s ‘Responding to Racism’ campaign will provide proactive training in this area and supports the Association’s long-term campaign against racism and discrimination through the ‘Give Respect, Get Respect’ programme.
"Being proactive in addressing racism is central to the GAA Give Respect - Get Respect campaign,” says the GAA’s Diversity and Inclusion officer, Geraldine McTavish.
“As with all other ethnicity organisations we should be inclusive of everybody regardless of ethnicity or gender and this is the message we want to give to all young people about the GAA.”
Every generation tends to underestimate the one that follows it.
The old Irish saying Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí (praise the young and they will flourish) is as true now as it ever was, though.
The initiative shown by the Scoil Dara pupils proves as much.
“It's kind of amazing,” says Lucy Jones. “Once they get going, it's really amazing watching them. It's why I like YSI, because it empowers the students.
“The programme is designed to be student-led and really shows young people how they can change the world even though they're only 15 of 16. They have the power within their hands to do something about it.
“So to create future leaders like that and people who realise that it's up to them, that can lead to a massive wealth of social justice in our country.”
The youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow, which is why Sport Against Racism Ireland Cultural Planner, Ken McCue, is so enthusiastic about the initiative the Scoil Dara pupils have shown.
“It’s great to see the Responding to Racism pledge initiative coming directly from the students,” says McCue.
“It is important that the voice of youth is heard in their defence of the basic Human Right to equality and equity through the medium of sport.’’
The GAA’s ‘Responding to Racism’ campaign is a timely one the Irish Network Against Racism (INAR) has confirmed that March will be anti-racism month on an annual basis.
Check out #ARM2020 for further details.