‘Inspire a Change – Stop Domestic Violence’, in aid of the Mayo Women’s Refuge

Transition Year (TY) students highlight horror of domestic violence

They may be County Mayo’s only entrants in the Young Social Innovators project for this school year, but the Transition Year (TY) students of Davitt College, Castlebar, sure knew how to pull an emotionally-charged punch at yesterday’s (Monday’s) presentation on domestic violence.

“My name is Chris/I am three,/My eyes are swollen/I cannot see,/I must be stupid/I must be bad,/What else could have made/My daddy so mad.”

Their short and simple drama was created by using a tableau of two figures illuminated behind a screen, with one repeatedly assaulting the other, as a chorus of students narrated a grim tale.

“The hurt and the pain/Again and again/O please let it end!/And he finally stops/And heads for the door/While I lay there motionless/Sprawled on the floor/My name is Chris/I am three/ Tonight my daddy/Murdered me.”

For these TY students, who wish to ‘inspire a change’, a ‘broken home equals a broken heart’. On Thursday next they will join with other Young Social Innovators in Sligo and make their short dramatic presentation. They will also sell ‘Inspire a Change’ wrist bands to their fellow students in a fundraising effort for Mayo Women’s Support Services (MWSS) and their refuge.

“We think it is fantastic that the students are raising awareness about domestic violence. I think, as the Inspector [Mick Murray] said, the impact on children is not highlighted often enough. Children can be very torn and very confused by marital difficulties and violence,” said Catherine Neary of MWSS.

Praising the students for their dramatic presentation earlier, Insp Murray had observed it was usually the husband and wife who were highlighted when focusing on domestic violence issues.

“As a garda since 1980, I have dealt with more domestic violence incidents than I wanted to. Your depiction was impressive. It is usually the husband and the wife we meet and the children are often emotionally neglected and ignored in the whole situation,” said Insp Murray. He said that ‘economic circumstances’ was a very common reason for a woman remaining in a violent home. “Any man that hits a woman is a coward,” concluded Insp Murray. He warned: “Girls, don’t stay with a man that hits you.”

Congratulating Class 4a, Mayor of Castlebar, Cllr Eugene McCormack, said the presentation had been ‘very thought-provoking’. “What I found interesting was that it was behind the screen and that, in reality, this is what often happens behind closed doors,” he said.

School Principal, Mr Ioseph McGowan, said the students’ chosen subject was a very topical one. “It is very important that young people live beyond their own interests. They have put a huge amount of work into this and will now raise money for the women’s refuge,” said Mr McGowan.

Last year there were 178 referrals to the MWSS. There have been 1,800 since the services started in 1996. Since 1996, 131 women have been murdered in Ireland; over half of them, 82, in their own homes.

Young Social Innovators was created in 2001 to develop social awareness and activism among young people – aged between 15 and 18. It aims to help them become effective champions for social justice no matter what job or profession they enter. The framework involves students working in teams, to identify a social issue they feel they could help to change. The chosen issue may affect their school, community, Ireland in general, or have an international aspect.

For further information, visit http://www.youngsocialinnovators.ie and http://www.mayowomenssupportservices.com


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