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Lift Ireland Set to Bring Self-Leadership Roundtables to All Young People

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13 June 2024

In just over five years, 100,000 people, from the classroom to the boardroom, have participated in LIFT Ireland’s self-leadership and personal development roundtable events.  The social enterprise which focusses roundtable discussions on core human values, like respect, integrity, accountability, was set up by Joanne Hession, David Hession and Sonya Lennon. With a round of funding in the offing, LIFT is poised to bring the programme to every young person in the country through their schools and outreach activities within the next 3 to 4 years.  In 2025 alone, LIFT are aiming to sign up another 120 schools to join the 330+ schools already on board.  That’s an additional 1,200 TY students who will be impacted by this unique self-reflective model. 

Unsurprisingly LIFT has seen a gravitational pull into the education sector. ’With 65,000 secondary school students taking part in our roundtables, we’ve seen, up close, the impact we’re having in helping young people navigate their way through complex social issues.” Joanne Hession tells us.

Sonya Lennon puts it another way, ‘In a series of 40-minute sessions, people get to discuss the fundamentals of what it means to better lead oneself, to be a more aware and tolerant friend, colleague or family member.”

Having successfully formed partnerships with some of Ireland’s biggest corporate players like Vodafone, AIB and StayCity, LIFT’s business model, however, is true to its social purpose in that corporate partners fund the schools programme, ensuring its free for all students, nationwide.

David Hession, brother to Joanne, a successful lawyer and psychologist, is the one charged with monitoring the impact. ‘Working with the University of Galway, we already see early evidence on the impact we’re having on young people’s well-being. An anonymous online survey of 700 students conducted after a cycle of 8 roundtables revealed that 35.7% stated ‘improved ability to deal with others’, while 56% said LIFT had ‘changed how they will think or act in the future’. 

LIFT are building a robust research programme to understand where it aligns with current social/psychological theories, how it impacts attitudes and behaviours, and the variations that socio-demographics will bring too. David  Hession himself is commencing a doctorate programme around the LIFT model.

LIFT is chaired by renowned business leader Anne Heraty, recently honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award 2024 by Image PwC. Its board includes recognised and respected leaders like John Lonergan, Denise Fitzgerald, and Ken Casey. 

‘100,000 and going for the multiplier’ is Joanne Hession’s aim, and with her 25-year success as founder of both The Entrepreneurs Academy and QED The Accreditation Experts, together with Sonya Lennon’s Work Equal social enterprise, this trio are already seeing LIFTs magnetism at work internationally.  A self-leadership pilot is due to take place with LIFT Partner GOAL in Uganda in May this year.

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