Day of empowerment held for Waterford's young women

Justin Kelly


Justin Kelly


In celebration of International Day of the Girl today, Friday, October 11, The Shona Project, in partnership with Beat 102-103 and Waterford Area Partnership, held a free event for 1,000 Transition Year girls in the South East addressing empowerment, mental health and more, with a view to eventually expanding to Ireland’s other regions. 

SHINE19 took place at the WIT Arena, Waterford and featured a host of Ireland’s most inspirational female speakers who discussed topics across mental health, wellbeing, body image, resilience, diversity and equality. 

Speakers included: Razan Ibraheem, a Syrian journalist, refugee human rights activist and advocate for young people; Sarah Doyle, a life coach and TEDx speaker, returning for a second year by popular demand; Niamh Fitzpatrick, a leading Irish psychologist, and sister of Rescue 116 Captain Dara Fitzpatrick.

Helen McTadhg, the Guidance Counsellor at Our Lady of Mercy Secondary School said, “It’s great to have this support in Waterford, along with the showcasing of strong, positive female role models. I think that sense of community is important, knowing we’re here for each other.”

The conference featured a musical performance from Soulé, one of Ireland’s leading young pop and electronic music vocalists. She was joined by the viral phenomenon Mount Sion Choir as the event drew to a close. 

Margo McGann, the TY Coordinator at St Augustine’s Secondary School said of the event, “The event has been pretty amazing. I spoke to the girls and they really enjoyed it. They loved the guest speakers, and also the aerobic warm-ups too. There was a great balance.”

SHINE19 serves to build on the resounding success of the inaugural RISE 2018 which featured speakers Ellen Coyne, Caroline Foran and Nikki Bradley in a positivity-packed day that ended in a group sing-song and a room full of bubbles.

This year’s event was brighter, bolder and louder than the last one, and with the help of the SHINE19 partners, the booked-out event was completely free for schools and attendees who attended from Waterford, Wexford, Carlow, Kilkenny and Tipperary. 

This event comes as The Shona Project announces the launch of ‘The Survival Handbook for Girls’, an essential companion for young women which deals with topics including negative friendships, dealing with anxiety and even advice for protecting the environment. 

The book is available for free to first year girls, and The Shona Project can print and deliver their copies subject to their school filling in the dedicated form. Otherwise, the book is available at a price point of €7.95 from The Shona Project website. 

Tammy Darcy, Founder of The Shona Project said, “It moves me to think that thousands of second cycle students can refer to this book in times of need, or simply to learn more about themselves and the world that they live in.

“In writing this, we took special care to address absolutely everything that young women are faced with, including self-esteem, mental health and online safety, to create a comprehensive handbook that is the companion my generation never had,” she added. 

The Survival Handbook for Girls has, as of this point, received an overwhelming 20,000 orders and is well on its way to becoming a common talking point amongst secondary school girls. 

“We wanted this book to make a real positive difference for young women, but we never could have anticipated this phenomenal demand,” Darcy said. 

The Shona Project was announced as a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Awardee in October 2017, and in July 2018 was invited to speak about its work by their Royal Highness’, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan.