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International Women’s Day 2022 – Celebrating our staff!

michelle-moroney-shoni-tavendale-barretstown-international-womens-day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we spoke to the programme managers that make the Barretstown activities what they are!

Michelle Moroney – Onsite Programme Manager

How does it feel for you working in a team of women to deliver the programmes in Barretstown?

I am very proud of the work we do at Barretstown. I am honored to be part of a team that are so driven to deliver life changing programmes for children and their families living with a serious illness. It is inspiring to work alongside women who are thought leaders within their field. Women who continually want to improve the quality of the Barretstown experience for all involved.

What do you think are the advantages of having a gender diverse workforce here in camp?

I think there are a number of advantages of having a gender diverse workforce at Barretstown. When you’re a part of a team, it is so important to listen to a number of different perspectives. It helps to see the whole picture and helps us understand better the needs and feelings of everyone involved. We are role models for our campers, families and supporters. It is important that they feel like they can relate to us, connect with us as a team, be inspired by the work that we do and how we approach it.

What main change would you like to see for young girls in the next generation?

When I look at my niece (she is 2 years old) I see a confident, caring, intelligent and fearless young woman. She is confident to give anything a go and determined to figure things out if she doesn’t get it first time around. She has the ability to capture the attention of an entire room and get her message across in her own unique way. My hope is that all young girls hold onto their unique qualities. That they are encouraged and given the platform to achieve. That there is an equal playing field for all.

Are there any women that you look up to?

Of course, how long do I have?!

In my personal life I am blessed with amazing women that I look up to each and every day. My mum, sister, aunty, and friends. They inspire me each and every day with how they approach life, take on challenges and how they care for the people around them. Their support is something I treasure every day.

Sport is a huge passion of mine and something I have been interested and involved in from a very young age. Jacqui Hurley is an excellent sports presenter and someone I have really admired over the years. She is also the author of Girls Play Too which highlights female Irish sporting role models, and this book is helping to inspire female sport participation, both now and in the future.

What advice would you have for younger women as they look ahead to their futures?

My advice would be to figure out what really makes you happy and don’t give up ’til you find it. Give yourself time to figure things out. It’s not a race. Try things out, learn from your experiences and the people around you. Don’t hold yourself back; if it’s something you want to try go for it. Don’t let a bad experience turn you off something forever. Believe in yourself and what you have to offer.

Shoni Tavendale – Outreach Programme Manager

How does it feel for you working in a team of women to lead the delivery of programmes in Barretstown?

I have worked with many wonderful staff members throughout my time at Barretstown. It is exciting to be part of a predominantly female led team delivering the programmes we have here at camp. It is always inspiring to see women taking on leadership positions in roles that can often be associated with as otherwise.

What do you think are the advantages of having a gender diverse workforce here in camp? 

It is great to have a gender diverse workforce at camp. In the same way that woman are often looked over for leadership positions, men can often be discouraged from taking on caregiving roles and working in childcare settings such as the ones we have at Barretstown. Creating a space where all gender identities can thrive in a multitude of roles shows the children coming through our programmes the possibilities that life can hold for them and a more wholesome approach to the work setting. It is important that children learn that any role they wish to fulfil in life is not out of their reach, and that they should and can shape their futures based on their dreams and aspirations rather than having to conform to social pressures and societal expectations.

What main change would you like to see for young girls in the next generation?

I would like the next generation to not have to feel inspired by seeing women in leadership positions. I would love to see it become the norm. In the same way young boys can see themselves in those who have come before, let young girls and other gender identities have this opportunity too.

Close the pay gap, provide equal opportunity, establish more role models, provide pathways in which this is achievable.

In addition to this I would like to see more opportunities from an early age for young girls in sport. I have always loved participating in sport but have often felt the odd one out being in predominantly male dominated teams and have experienced less opportunity available for progression than my male counterparts. I run round my local park each night of the week and I’m shocked by how many sports teams and opportunities there are for young boys that are not on offer or encouraged for young girls. Any sport/ activity does not need to be gender conforming at such a young age and by encouraging children to participate in sports we provide pathways for them to achieve success in their adult years. In this country and across the world women’s sport is still not regarded on the same level as men’s and we have to change that at a grassroots level to make a meaningful difference. We also need platforms and funding at an adult level so young girls progressing have the same opportunity as their male peers.

Are there any women that you look up to?

There are too many important ones to name them all 🙂 My mum always taught us we could be whoever we wanted to be and that our voices and opinions mattered. I value this immensely and think that has stood me well so far in life.

Finally, what advice would you have for younger women as they look ahead to their futures?

You can do anything you want. Don’t be afraid to advocate for yourself and others around you. Have the belief in yourself and your abilities. Be fierce in the pursuit of your dreams! At the end of the day, you are the only one who gets to decide what you are capable of.

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