Comhairle na nOg Liatroma launched their important behaviour workbook 'Use your Brain Not Your Fists ' in Ballinamore Community School last Tuesday, December 10 with students hearing the message loud and clear that “One punch can kill”.
This workbook was made to enhance the learning from their video and to educate young people about the consequences an assault can have on the victim, the perpetrator and the community.
The workbook is in a youth and user friendly format and has real life scenarios and role plays for young people to work through.
Principal Diarmuid McCaffrey of Ballinamore Community School opened the launch with a warm welcome to everyone and stated he will be incorporating the workbook into the SPHE programme, and he acknowledged that it will reach its targeted audience and the message will be out there that “One Punch Can Kill”.
Cathaoirleach of Leitrim County Council Enda McGloin thanked the Comhairle na nOg young people for all their hard work on the workbook.
He spoke about the dedication of the young people and Rosie Dolan throughout the campaign. Enda welcomed Rosie Dolan up to address the audience.
Rosie told the audience “how she wished Andrew’s three attackers had seen this video and read this workbook before they went out on the fatal night of December 23 2011, just two days before Christmas.”
Andrew’s birthday was just the week before. “He should have been out celebrating his 28th birthday with friends.
“Instead, and to mark the occasion, I planted flowers on his grave.
“My son was gentle, kind, witty and generous. He loved life and all it had to offer. He was only 20, a second year biomedical student at the time of his death.
“Following Andrew’s unprovoked assault in Mullingar he was placed in an induced coma and rushed by ambulance to Beaumont Hospital for emergency surgery.
“I will never forget the 10 days by his bedside as he lay, eyes closed, motionless, attached to a life support machine. I hoped and prayed for survival. But to no avail.
“On New Year’s Day 2012 Andrew was pronounced dead. We were devastated. Andrew was stolen from us; his life and his future robbed from him. He never even got to say goodbye. There were 12 Andrews that year. In 2012 12 young lives lost.
“However, you don’t have to die to become a victim of an unprovoked assault. You don’t have to die for devastation to be caused to your family and friends.
“You see the beautiful Shane Grogan in his wheelchair in the video and you see his inspirational parents. Shane was attacked in 2012. His life as he knew it is on hold for now.
“We were delighted when the Garda initiated the 'Use Your Brain Not Your Fists' campaign. In this context it’s good to have Sergeant Kelvin Courtney from the Garda National Crime Prevention here.
“ He is a great inspiration, help and supporter of both the video and workbook. Likewise I have to add that the ongoing support from the local Gardaí particularly Superintendent Kevin English and Sergeant Orla McGrath is appreciated. However, we are here today because the young people in Leitrim Comhairle na nOg facilitated by Fiona Taylor and ably assisted by Suzanne Duffy in Leitrim County Council listened to us, they heard our stories, they felt our heartache.
“This morning’s launch is indeed their compelling and powerful response I can’t thank them enough.
“Not only have the young people produced, filmed and acted in this most powerful video but they have also had an input in the workbook. Thank you to the teachers throughout Leitrim who facilitated their pupil’s involvement in Leitrim Comhairle and allowed us to present to their transition years.
“I know Edwina McNulty from Carrick Community School has plans to promote the video and workbook nationally. This workbook provides the vehicle, the rationale and the template to help deliver the message of responsible behaviour.
“The clear rationale is to avoid irresponsible behaviour at all costs and understand the horrific outcomes arising from momentary senseless madness: for the victims in death and life changing injuries, for the families of the victims for their loss of a loved one or the debilitating injuries and care consequences, financial loss and much more and yes even for the perpetrators in term of imprisonment, shame brought on themselves and their families, career and travel prospects.
“When Andrew was under attack that night he put his hands up. He was heard saying “please, please don’t hit me”. My son, my beautiful boy pleading for his life - his pleads went unheeded. So I plead on his and Shane’s behalf to please heed this video, it’s on Youtube, one punch can injure, one punch can kill!”
Rosie thanked Zak Moradi and Clare Owens who were launching the workbook and stated that is indeed appropriate.
Clare has been an inspiration to Leitrim Ladies football over many years, Zak’s adaption to life in Ireland, his resilience, his success in hurling and also, rather poignantly, Zak and Andrew were former classmates at St Mary's National School. Rosie thanked Caroline Costello Caslin for the design and layout of the user friendly workbook.
This workbook was funded from Healthy Ireland with the support of the Healthy Leitrim team.
Sergeant Kelvin Courtney from the Garda National Crime Prevention Unit stated there have been approximately 16,000 assaults reported to An Garda Síochána this year. 16,000 chances for something terrible to go wrong, in fact there were approximately 4,000 incidents where something did go wrong. Assaults are at a 15 year high. The victims and offenders are in the main men on men, usually aged between 18 and 34. Most assaults occur on weekend nights.
'Operation Soteria' is an anti-crime strategy. The focus is on the prevention of assaults and associated crimes throughout Ireland using strategies that can be adapted based on local requirements and conditions.
‘Operation Soteria’ is targeted at assaults which occur in public places.
'Use Your Brain Not Your Fist' is the Garda Social Media Campaign aimed at the most likely offenders, namely males aged 18 – 34.
Street wise safety advice:
P - Plan your night out; how are you getting there and how are you getting back?
L - Let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back.
A - Avoid walking alone in dark places.
N - Never try to reason with drunk or aggressive people. Use Your Brain Not Your Fist!
S - Streetwise; be wary of your surroundings and mind your valuables.
Sergeant Courtney praised the workbook and stated that the Garda will be rolling out the use of the workbook in the New Year as part of the Garda Schools Programme.
He stated it was a valuable tool to use with young people and to get the message out there Use Your Brain Not Your Fist!
Clare Owens and Zak Moradi launched the workbook and thanked Comhairle na nOg Liatroma for inviting them to this special day.
They encouraged every teacher and youth worker to use the workbook to educate young people about the dire consequences of an assault.
For any school or youth setting who would like a copy of the workbook please contact: (071) 9641721.