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Celebrating Citizen Education and the Student Nursing Times Award

27th June 2022

Wednesday 22nd June 2022 saw WAVE celebrate all that is good about our VSS funded Citizen Education programme with particular focus on the recent Student Nursing Times Award (full gallery at bottom of page).

In Northern Ireland there are certain subjects that are taboo, things that we just don’t speak about: the Troubles, religion, politics, sectarianism, trauma; to name but a few.  How can we change this?  How can we make visible the wounds of forty plus years of violent conflict in a way to improve how people are treated because of what they lived through?  How do young people learn if we don’t talk about it?  How do we open up conversations that have been held silent for decades, in a non-political, non-partisan, neutral, inclusive and educational way?

WAVE have a very different way of helping us to learn about the Troubles.  And they call it Citizen Education and are incredibly proud of it.

WAVE believes that understanding the context of what happened to people should lead to more effective care delivery to those most affected/damaged by the ‘Troubles’

This part of Trauma Education involves victims and survivors as citizen trainers delivering tutorials to help students better understand the long term effects of the Troubles on individuals, families and communities.

WAVE see this as best practice and professional development for students and practitioners to begin to become aware of and incorporate the wider context into their individual field of expertise.

Citizen Education opens up a human story of the Troubles without a political commentary whilst giving a voice to those who have been voiceless until now.  It is a powerful and emotion evoking way of learning.

Students witness Citizen Education interventions through:

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Role Plays
  • Guest Speakers
  • Panel guests
  • Group work
  • Zoom & MS Teams

And give inputs to student:

  • Nurses
  • Doctors
  • Brain Surgeons
  • Social Workers
  • Counsellors
  • Lawyers
  • Human Rights Lawyers
  • Art therapists
  • Ministers of the Faith
  • PHD students (ethical research)
  • Journalists
  • The police
  • Teachers
  • Youth Workers
  • Capita staff
  • International groups
  • New WAVE staff
  • Peace and Reconciliation workers


Looking at topics including:

  • Grief and loss
  • Complicated grief
  • Healing interventions
  • Psychological health
  • Physical health
  • Intergenerational Trauma
  • Survivors guilt
  • Silence
  • Suicide
  • Human cost
  • Impact on the family
  • Coping strategies including addictions
  • Feeling safe and regulated
  • PTSD
  • Legacy
  • Truth
  • Justice
  • Acknowledgment

It is a very life affirming part of WAVE’s work and we are indebted to the strength of character and bravery of our wonderful Citizen Education team who talk about their trauma to ensure that future generations are best prepared to work in the context of a community emerging from such a violent conflict in such a small geographic area over such a protracted period of time, meaning that the percentage of the population they will be serving impacted by the Troubles will be high, approximately 1 in every 38 of the population.

On the evening Grainne McKenna, coordinator of the Citizen Education programme paid respect to the Citizen Educators for giving so much to civic society in a quiet and unassuming way.  She talked about the citizen educators finding something good from something so bad and discovering hidden talents. She credited them with bringing the human context into the classroom over and above statistics and academic learning.  She said that this Student Nursing Times Award was the icing on the cake for all their hard work and sacrifice.

Citizen Educator Tommy Larkham delivered a self-penned poem about what it meant for him to receive a national award, whilst Henry Cochrane spoke about what being part of the programme had meant for him in terms of personal growth and confidence.  Mark Kelly talked about the origins of the programme and how far reaching and well respected it now was across several educational schools including social work and medicine.  And David Miskimmin played and sang a heartfelt song that resonated with all those present about enduring pain and ultimately finding joy.

Johanna McMullan, Year 1 Lead, Queens University Belfast School of Nursing and Midwifery paid credit to the work of the Citizen Educators and outlined exactly what the student nurses came away with in terms of empathy, noticing signs and symptoms of Trauma and ultimately not being afraid of having a conversation about the Troubles because it can be handled without getting into the politics of it.  She was glowing about the Citizen Educators impact on the students.

The evening finished off with WAVE Chairperson Marianne Moutray giving credit and affirmation to each and every Citizen Educator present for their conviction, dedication and selflessness to deliver these sessions for the good of future generations.

The evening was very emotional with quite a euphoric feel to it at recognising all the achievements and developments in the programme as well being recognised nationally in the form of the Student Nursing Times Award.