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Coalition 2030 member International Presentation Association presents at High Level Political Forum 2022

Challenge to Change is a Presentation Schools Initiative for both Primary and Secondary Schools that inspires students to take on a challenge grounded in the SDGs that will bring about some change. Such is the impact that they were invited to present at the High Level Political Forum of 2022. Watch the short video below to hear Brian O’Toole from the International Presentation Association speak at the HLPF side event. Brian’s speech in full is below the video.

Learn more about this fantastic project here.

Full speech

Challenge to Change is a development education project aimed at all students from 4 – 18 years of age in Irish Presentation schools.

Raising awareness of global inequality, these hands on projects foster critical thinking as students understand how their local action can have a global impact.

What better way to bring about this learning than to ground the Challenge to Change Projects in the SDGs a living plan for the future that connects us all.

The vision of the project is driven by the Presentation charism and ethos embracing the challenge of working with those who are furthest behind.

Challenge to change is about empowering students as they explore SDG themes, encouraging a social consciousness, a broader vision an appreciation of complex worldly issues.

Challenge to Change harnesses the energy and enthusiasm of all students and while an individual class may take the lead, projects are generally a whole-school effort.

This vision and passion inspires young people to consider the reasons why so many people are so far behind. Students choose projects that relate to people, planet, partnership, peace and prosperity – the 5Ps of the SDGs

The map shows the spread of the Challenge to Change projects across Ireland in it’s nearly 20 year existence. Importantly not all schools are the same. Some are located in wealthier areas, some in the poorer urban and rural areas. Some schools are extremely large whilst others are very small by comparison. Some of the participating schools have classes for students with extra needs but all students are invited to engage and there is a firm promise to LNOB echoing an important principle that underpins the SDGs.

Challenge to Change Projects are non-competitive & entries are not judged. It is accepted that all schools have produced, learned and shared to the best of their ability.

Engaging with the project ensures the support of a tried and tested process that outlines how the project might be collectively planned, who might be involved, how it might be recorded, indicating a possible timeline taking all through their project step by step.

This year the C2C team asked that all project would adhere to the Theme of Climate Change: With this is mind they offered a possible list of  topics and suggested actions, only as a guide, but not limited by the suggestions.

So what are the activities that engage the students who take part in the Challenge to Change projects. Here you can see just a small sample of possibilities….

The students form a committee and are focussed in discussion all as they buy in to their Challenge to Change Project. They make important decisions together.

Previously some projects have taken a investigative look at those who are furthest behind and as well as taking an action to make a difference, awakening that social justice spark, prompting active participative global citizenship with important opinions that may well have been shaped by their work on their Projects.

Raising Awareness is a key element of each project. A child employed is a future destroyed. An interesting Challenge for the young boys in the photo.

Another impressive and impactful project looked at plastic waste, the effects on the oceans, on marine biodiversity as students thought to practically reuse some of the carelessly discarded plastic.

They re-imagined the waste and produced costumes , jewellery and accessories that would be the envy of any Parisian or New York Cat Walk….

Some of the topics chosen are complex, difficult and often confronting for example Child Soldiers or Human Trafficking,  but this doesn’t deter students from researching, caring,  and working to raise the profile of topics that perhaps we wouldn’t like to hear about.

Homelessness is a lived experience for many in Ireland and is regularly reported on in the context of the of Urban Homelessness. One Presentation School made Rural Homelessness the focus of their project, researching, listening, questioning and reporting on their findings. Their C2C project, not only proved that rural homelessness is a real lived issue for so many they then went on to take a practical action to support those who live on the streets. Together with parents they raised money to purchase a van which they now use for the weekly delivery of sandwiches, and practical supports.

Towards the end of the school year all participating schools are invited to send representatives who will speak to their projects at special seminars that celebrate the achievements of all, that showcase the work, that highlight the learning and insights, allowing all in attendance to shine.

Prior to the seminar the students will have presented their work to others classes, their whole school, their parents and community and maybe even to the school next door. They’ve become experts in their field. They have become instruments of intergenerational understanding and change, they have taken active competent steps to make a positive difference.

All who attend are also treated to relevant educational workshops that are offered by International NGOs and others with experience in working with those who are furthest behind.

This is one school in Dublin who created an imaginative rap to alert all to the carbon emissions associated with transport… Have a listen (followed by video).

In Galway students paid careful attention to Fossil Fuels learning about COP26 and the SDGs as they visited Galway Wind Farm researching costs, technology and local and global impact. The guided learning is interactive and cross curricular

In this little video the students have saved plastic bottle caps from entering the ocean and created a seascape alerting us to the effects of our plastic pollution elsewhere in our world.

This is the final impressive result.

So there you have it….

Students leading by example, becoming teachers in a world where every country has signed up to the SDGs where only a few really take them seriously. The Irish government can talk a good game but it’s the students here who walk the talk.

C2C is about doing and learning by doing, it’s about valuing all, it’s about rearing young advocates, it’s about the integration of speaking and thinking that puts the person at the centre. It’s about being moved by the heart as it taps into a curiosity and promotes teamwork where participation and affirmation are the prizes. In the words of one young participant “There are so many ways of challenging to change”.

Thank You.

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