Irish Origins

The origins of this tool is in the work of the lead partner, Youth Work Ireland in the Republic of Ireland, and its ongoing consultation and engagement with young people through a participatory consensus building process. Through this process, the 76,000 young people who engaged weekly with Youth Work Ireland services, collectively identify key issues that they feel need to be addressed in a youth work setting. In 2017, young people identified the theme of sexual health as a key issue.

Following on from this, Youth Work Ireland developed a youth work activity consultation which was carried out by youth workers in club settings. In this consultation over 400 young people across 37 youth groups were asked to identify the topics, in relation to Positive Sexual Health, they wanted to learn more about, be heard on and change.

The results from this consultation identified the areas of health and safety, sex education and laws/regulations around sex, as being the issues young people want to learn more about, be heard on and change. These issues have formed the basis for the rest of the Positive Sexual Health campaign.

The European Dimension

Everyone remembers the emergence of the #metoo campaign in United States of America in October 2017. This was quickly followed by movements emerging across Europe in France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain. In this context, a European-wide approach to sexual health education, particularly sexual health education with a focus on consent, rights and identity, emerged as a strategically important approach.

Through existing European-wide partnerships and networks for clubs and youth information centres, affiliations existed between ECYC (European Confederation of Youth Clubs), LOGO jugendmanagement and Youth Work Ireland. This allowed for conversations to emerge about how we could jointly leverage our experience, expertise and network, to develop a European-wide programme aimed at youth club volunteers, youth workers, educators and youth information workers to provide young people with empowering sexual health and reproductive education in a community setting.

The YES project programme is based on a widespread participatory curriculum research development (PCD) programme, which refined our understanding of the themes identified by Irish young people, and understands these in a European context. The PCD process ensured that the YES Project programme combined evidence from expert knowledge based on research and evaluation, with reflections of ‘real world’ practitioner’s experience and the expressed needs of young people.

The PCD process involved young people, youth work practitioners and experts in youth sexual health education through the following:

  • Focus groups of young people in 25 different youth projects in Ireland. The results of thefocus groups provided the topic areas, approach and ethos for the programme.
  • An online survey of 142 youth work practitioners across the Island of Ireland and Europe in five languages. This provided us with an evidence base for the structure, session design, organisation of topics and delivery methods.
  • The programme structure, learning outcomes, and pedagogical approach was peer- reviewed by seven leading experts on youth sexual health. These experts work in the fields of curriculum development, academic research, programme delivery and programme design.
  • The pack itself was designed by Dr Susan Redmond, who is also responsible for drafting the new junior-cycle Relationships and Sexuality Curriculum for Ireland.


The YES Pack – Approach and Outcomes

The resulting pack is one that takes an empowerment approach and focuses on the key issues identified by practitioners, experts and young people. These are:

  • Sexual Identity & Relationships
  • Communicating Consent
  • Wider Influences & Decision-Making

The YES Project programme allows practitioners to address these issues with young people in three one-hour sessions. This is the delivery method that practitioners felt was most suitable for the greatest number of young people. The content of the pack has been reviewed by key informants and found to be accurate, and accessible for all young people, regardless of background.

Overall, this pack is one that the partnership of Youth Work Ireland, ECYC and Logo jugendmanagement believes to be of value to practitioners, and will consequently improve the wellbeing of young people across Europe.