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Swapping lives has broken down barriers

RTÉ One’s programme ‘Changemakers’ will showcase a ‘Life Swap’ project between inmates and children coordinated by Limerick’s empathy education nonprofit Narrative 4.

The TV show follows a 13-week collaboration between Mountjoy Progression Unit inmates and Maynooth University students who participated in Narrative 4 seminars.

Inmates and pupils got to switch roles and walk in one other’s shoes in activities to help them imagine a new existence.

The effort also earned each participant a Gaisce President’s Award.

“The objective was to demonstrate the young people in prison that third level education is an option for them and for the pupils to examine their own prejudices,” stated Dr. James Lawlor of Narrative 4.

‘Both groups learned from each other,’ said Gaisce project manager Marion Irwin-Gowran. An exchange of stories lost labels and preconceptions in the middle of laughing, silence, and sharing. Friendships were formed and lives were influenced. Empower the participants to establish common ground and sympathise with one other.