DCU student hosts initiative to boost adolescent self esteem through ethnic identity

Niamh Quinlan

A Health Action Project to inform adolescents about their ethnic identity and enhance self-esteem, Ethnic Pride Ireland, has been created by final year Health and Society student, Asiya Mu’azzam.

“The intended effect that I have for this project is that it improves adolescents’ self-esteem,” said the 20-year-old, “it opens up a conversation about race and ethnicity in Ireland and provides an educational resource accessible to all in society.”

Ethnic identity has been associated with high self-esteem, according to Asiya, and she hopes “to promote adolescents to consider and enhance their ethnic identity” with this project.

Ethnic identity is how strongly an individual adheres or subscribes to the cultural values, attitudes, beliefs, and traditions, and often a similar racial background”, according to the Encyclopaedia of Adolescents.

A 1999 study of 5,423 adolescents found that ethnic identity positively correlated with high self-esteem, coping and optimism. More recently, in 2011, a large analysis of the literature on ethnic identity has found that, overall, ethnic identity and well-being are frequently associated.

The resurgence and prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 inspire Asiya to spend more time considering how she could educate herself and others on health disparities based on race and ethnicity in Ireland.

It’s her passion, she said.

“Personally, I grew up with race and ethnicity being a rarely discussed topic and I was always nervous to approach conversations about this subject. I want to create a space where adolescents, in particular, know that they are getting factual information and can have a healthy discussion about race and ethnicity and how it affects them and their identity.”

The project will consist of three modules presented over the course of three weeks: “What Is Ethnic Identity and Why Is It Important to Adolescents?”, “What Does Ethnic Identity Have to Do with Self-Esteem?” and “How Do I Search For/Enhance My Ethnic Identity?”.

The first module will take place on  January 25 and all three will be delivered on Instagram, for accessibility to the target audience of teenagers.

They will be delivered in a way that is clear and concise, with self-reflection questions at the end of each module, according to Asiya. “Race, culture and ethnicity are very intricate topics so I want to break it down so that it can make sense to us all,” she said.

Niamh Quinlan

Image Credit: Ethnic Pride Ireland