Winning Gold: Let’s Talk about Consent

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Students from Bush Post Primary School are celebrating their win at the Young Social Innovators of the Year Awards 2019, where the team scooped the overall gold prize. The Co. Louth school, located in the heart of the Cooley Peninsula, is where the 28 students first developed their winning idea, ‘Let’s Talk about Consent’.

The team, made up of both girls and boys, wanted to help young people to understand the meaning of consent in an accessible way. A number of high profile court cases dealing with rape and consent started a national conversation around consent and stirred up debate about what constituted consent. The team from Bush Post Primary were no different and they were inspired to focus on communicating consent in an accessible way for young people through their Young Social Innovators project.

“We see a lot of debate in the papers and social media,” said team member Orla, “But we really wanted to portray our message around consent in a way that young people can easily understand.”

The young changemakers came up with a creative and relatable analogy comparing sexual consent to jumping into a swimming pool. “As well as outlining what consent isn’t, we have outlined what consent is and how consent can be communicated,” said the innovators.

“For example, even if there’s a person dipping their toes in the water or paddling in the shallow end, it doesn’t mean they want to go diving in the deep end.”

The analogy in turn gave rise to their idea to produce a scripted podcast and an animated video that explains what consent means in an innovative, interesting and accessible way.

“Our unique selling point is that our podcasts are produced by teenagers who are communicating to teenagers,” said the Louth teens.

Consious that the issue is a sensitive one, the group worked with the Rape Crisis Centre to ensure that their messaging was both accurate and appropriate.

Keen to harness the potential power of the media to get their message across, they approached popular RTE DJ Will Leahy, who recorded a short piece for inclusion in the podcast. They were provided studio time by the team at LMFM to record their podcast professionally.

Asked what impact their project has had, Orla  said “We made a huge difference. In our school people are talking about consent in a more open way. It’s a taboo subject and we turned it around and that’s a huge thing.”

The team is now working to co-produce their scripted animation with a professional animation company.

The group of Louth innovators have big ideas for the advancement of their project. A launch week is planned that will involve extensive promotional activities. “As the podcast grows we hope that bloggers and other social influencers will see our podcast and will share it,” says the team.

“The potential of this project to have an impact on students all over Ireland, and even further afield, is huge,” said Rachel Collier, CEO and Co-founder of Young Social Innovators. “It is the innovative nature of this project that really caught the eye of the judges. Lots of young people are talking about consent, but this team of social innovators has developed a solution that tackles the problem in a really original way. Combined with their innovative actions to bring their message to a wider audience, this project has exciting potential.”

Their teacher, Colette Owens, explained what the win means to the school, the team and the community, “We’re a small school and this is a huge achievement. This is what transition year is all about.” She continued, “The students are learning so many skills that they wouldn’t necessarily learn in an academic classroom setting, such as communications and IT skills. These skills are so transferable and this experience will stand to them forever, benefitting them in the future.”

Owens went on to explain the impact that Young Social Innovators has had on her as a teacher:

“Through YSI you get to know the students on a different level and in a different way. That creates such a lovely rapport with the students.”

The Bush Post Primary team look forward to celebrating their achievement, as illustrated by team member Joey, “To get this far is amazing. Everyone is jumping up and down with excitement.”

This project was part of the YSI Challenge Relationships and Sexual Health, which is sponsored by the HSE Sexual Health and Crisis Pregnancy Programme.