Students at Cork school land global entrepreneurship award

Schoolgirls develop resource to teach consent and what is and is not appropriate touching to primary school children

A Cork school is celebrating international success after four of its pupils landed a top prize at the European YouthStart Entrepreneurship Awards for a project intended to help teach primary school pupils about consent and inappropriate touching.

Students Jade Guiney (17), Shanice Pepper (17), Sommer Nolan (17), and Shanice Browne (17) from North Presentation Secondary School in Farranree in Cork won the gold medal in the We Grow Together category for a project entitled Know Your Buttons.

North Presentation Secondary School deputy principal Mary O’Connell* said that great credit was due to the four fifth-year girls and their teacher, Stacey Higgins, who helped them develop the idea during their Business Studies class while in Transition Year last year.

“The girls set up a company, Know Your Buttons, and then they worked on the idea of developing a resource to teach consent and what is and is not appropriate touching to primary school children — helping them to distinguish between a good touch and a bad touch using a Gingerbread Man theme.


“I suppose it’s the simple nature of the idea because it’s very child friendly and they worked very hard at promoting the concept, so they had key rings and water bottles and stationery and T-shirts, all with a Gingerbread Man logo prepared to present as part of the project to the judges.”

The four girls took their first steps towards competing internationally in 2021 when Know Your Buttons won the Foroige Social Enterprise Competition for entrepreneurship and youth activism. They travelled to Olten in Switzerland for the European finals at the weekend.

Business teacher Stacey Higgins told Cork Beo: “It started as a project in TY and they’ve gone so far with it and it really is just an amazing idea, they were just brainstorming and it came together that they were really passionate about wanting to help primary school-age children.”

“The girls are really able to carry themselves, pitching their project and networking, they are so passionate, they worked with the Sexual Health Centre in Cork to develop the idea and the project has really come along.”

Ms O’Connell told The Irish Times the girls have already seen expressions of interest from the HSE which is keen to explore the concept as an in-school programme in primary schools to educate young children about consent. She said the win is a huge boon to the girls themselves and their school.

“Its opened their eyes to what they can achieve and the opportunities the future offer if they are ready to grasp them and work with the people involved — they wouldn’t have experienced anything like this before, but it’s shown them what they can do and given them a glimpse of the future.

“They are all local girls so they are fantastic role models for all the younger children growing up in Farranree and, of course, achieving international success like this gives a status to the school. We are a Deis school but this win says coming from a Deis school doesn’t limit your opportunities.”


*This article was amended on June 9th, 2022

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times