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The Social Health and Education Project (SHEP) celebrated its 50th anniversary and 15 years in Limerick with a graduation ceremony at The Greenhills Hotel on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Pictured are the graduates with SHEP staff and supporters from the Mid-West Regional Drug and Alcohol Forum (MWRDAF) and Limerick and Clare ETB. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick The Social Health and Education Project (SHEP) celebrated its 50th anniversary and 15 years in Limerick with a graduation ceremony at The Greenhills Hotel on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Pictured are the graduates with SHEP staff and supporters from the Mid-West Regional Drug and Alcohol Forum (MWRDAF) and Limerick and Clare ETB. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

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PHOTOS Social Health and Education Project (SHEP) celebrate 50 years of teaching “self-compassion and self-care”

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Social Health and Education Project (SHEP) celebrate 50 years teaching “self-compassion and self-care”. Pictured are the graduates with SHEP staff and supporters from the Mid-West Regional Drug and Alcohol Forum (MWRDAF) and Limerick and Clare ETB. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

The Social Health and Education Project (SHEP) celebrate their 50th anniversary and 15 years in Limerick with a graduation ceremony at The Greenhills Hotel on Wednesday, June 5, 2024

The Social Health and Education Project (SHEP) celebrated its 50th anniversary and 15 years in Limerick with a graduation ceremony at The Greenhills Hotel on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Pictured are Norma Roche, SHEP Training and Development Officer, Fern Higgins Atkinson, SHEP Senior Training and Development Officer and Geraldine Flanagan, SHEP Training and Development Officer. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick
Pictured are Norma Roche, SHEP Training and Development Officer, Fern Higgins Atkinson, SHEP Senior Training and Development Officer and Geraldine Flanagan, SHEP Training and Development Officer. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

The event marked a significant milestone for SHEP, which has been instrumental in personal development and community empowerment.

Established in Cork in 1974, SHEP is a unique, not-for-profit, community-based training and development organisation based in Cork, Kerry and Limerick.

The SHEP Midwest Programme is supported by the Mid-West Regional Drug and Alcohol Forum (MWRDAF) and Limerick and Clare ETB.


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The programme offers an eight-week introduction to personal development, followed by a more in-depth 29-week course. Anita O’Shea, a SHEP Development Worker explained, “The eight-week course gives participants a feel for personal development, and many go on to the 29-week course. We also offer a five-weekend course on social awareness and community empowerment, advanced personal development, facilitation training, and tutor training.”

Cora Foley, Youth Development Officer with the Limerick and Clare ETB, spoke about the importance of the programme saying, “Many participants continue their education after doing  SHEP courses within the ETB. It’s often the first step back into the education space, helping individuals gain confidence and develop their skills and talents.”

Pictured are Anita O’Shea, SHEP Development Worker , Cora Foley, Youth Development Officer with the Limerick and Clare ETB, graduate JK Ryan, Corbally, Helen Ryan, Midwest Regional Drug and Alcohol Forum and Jim Sheehan, Director of SHEP. Picture: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

Helen Ryan, Regional Coordinator for the Midwest Regional Drugs and Alcohol Forum, highlighted how SHEP is supported by many parts of the community, she said, “We provide funding through our education bursary for SHEP courses, our development worker, Anita, offers tremendous support to participants.”

Jim Sheehan, Director of SHEP, reflected on the milestone as they celebrate 50 years as an organisation with 15 of those in Limerick, “Our courses may not be for everyone, but they offer a valuable next step for many.

“We provide a supportive environment, and our facilitators are dedicated to helping participants apply their learning to benefit their lives and communities.”

The graduation ceremony not only marks an incredible achievement for SHEP in celebrating a half-century supporting Irish communities, but also highlights the impact the programme has made on personal development of individuals and supporting local communities.

Graduates in the evening shared their experiences and growth following the SHEP courses, one graduate, JK Ryan from Corbally, highlighted how learning with the organisation helped him, he said, “I have a history of anxiety over the years. So basically, I was in a bad place when I first started the 8-week course, it just taught me about self-compassion and self-care, and my inner critic, and accepting what they are. Sitting with the uncertainty of not knowing what’s going to go well, and just things like that, because life goes a mile a minute.”

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Read more Limerick & Clare ETB stories here

Pictures: Olena Oleksienko/ilovelimerick

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