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Yesterday marked 6 months since The Shona Project launched. To celebrate, some of our youth council and board members got together to reflect on what we’ve done so far, and where we want to go from here.

Over the past few months we have spoken to thousands of girls and boys around Ireland, had tens of thousands of visitors to our website, and created an amazing network of supporters and new friends all over Ireland. Our youth council are, quite simply, amazing young women who have all been through more in their young years than some us us manage in a lifetime, and, because of and in spite of that, really understand and support what we’re trying to do, which is to help young women who are struggling with any or all of the issues that make being a girl so dang hard sometimes.

We ate cookies (lots of), meditated, had a sea walk and talked about all our plans for the next year. Before we knew it, the whole room was filled with post-its and mindmaps, and we had ideas coming out of our eyeballs. Proof for sure that women of all ages and backgrounds can come together to make stuff happen because we trust and respect each other completely. We were also honoured to have a visit from Senator Grace O’Sullivan, local legend, who invited us to Leinster House for lunch very soon.

We have big plans for the next few years, and hope to become bigger and better than ever before. We plan to use every tool, contact and platform available to us to change the current teen experience, and will do this by:

  • Educating. Tapping our network of doctors, counsellors, teachers and thinkers to share their experiences with girls who don’t know where else to turn. If you’re asking yourself “Am I Normal?”, then yes, you probably are. We’ve all been there, or thereabouts. Life not being normal is perfectly normal, but that doesn’t make it any less hard sometimes.
  • Inspiring. Need role models? We’ve got loads of them. Sometime us girls don’t see how wide our world is in terms of opportunities. Yes, some of us want to be nurses, teachers and beauticians and that’s cool. But some of us want to be coders, engineers, politicians, truck drivers, sports stars and pilots. We celebrate the women who make our world wider and deeper and enrich it with diversity.
  • Empowering. We are currently working on a number of programmes with different organisations to create opportunities and supports for girls for whom getting from A to B is not easy. No girl should be prevented from being who she can because life keeps throwing other challenges at her. For us, that is the girl who can best do the job, because she’s tough, smart and compassionate to others. We need more of these women at the top.

Thank you to everyone who has helped us so far, the girls who have been so open with us, the writers who have shared their most personal stories, the schools who have trusted and welcomed us and the youth council who are 100% committed to creating change.

Watch this space, we’re only getting started…..