“You should learn to walk in other people's shoes before you judge”

Jamie’s story is shared as part of AONTAS’ national campaign from 1st - 14th September 2021 to raise awareness about the benefits of returning to education as an adult.

Jamie Murray, a learner with Ability@Work in Cork and a member of the Ability Board, has previously participated in AONTAS Learner Voice activities, which includes sharing his learner story during the Learners as Leaders “Nothing About Us Without Us” campaign in April - Click here to learn more. Jamie participated in the July 2021 Learners as Leaders programme which, delivered in partnership with Development Perspectives, focused on Development Education and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We caught up with Jamie to discuss his experience of learning about the SDGs.

Tell us a little about your learning experiences and what you’ve been up to since the Learners as Leaders Ability@Work programme.

I have an intellectual disability. I wasn’t very happy in mainstream school. There were too many people in the class and it got confusing for me. I didn’t like maths and I needed extra help but I couldn’t get it. It was very hard.

I just finished a course. It was the ‘Social Impact Ireland, Business for Social Impact, Spring Incubator Programme’ (honestly that’s a mouthful to say!). 


It was on for 4 months and I loved every minute of it. I hope there is another course like that out there. I am part of a group called the Ability Board (Ability@Work) who are a voice for people with different abilities. We want to set ourselves up as a social enterprise so that’s what this course was all about. It taught us how to do that. My Job Coach gave me support with this course.

I feel like I know more about social enterprises than I ever did before. I was bored out of my head without doing anything during COVID so this really brought me out of myself and stopped me from being sad. It helped me through a hard time.

Which Sustainable Development Goal do you feel is the most important and why?

The zero hunger one (SDG 2). I really liked the Life of a Strawberry video. I never realised how much money and the environment was wasted. You are not just throwing out the food - you have to consider where the food came from and how it got here. I never thought of the plane fuel and the environment. We are just such wasters. Other countries are starving without food and we are just wasting it. It made me feel sad and a bit guilty too. I feel that nobody should go hungry. It’s just not right and it’s cruel. 

How would you encourage people to care more about the Sustainable Development Goals?

I would say look at yourself. Reflect on your own truths before you think about SDGs. You should learn to walk in other peoples shoes before you judge. Nobody knows what other people are suffering.

What advice would you give to someone else considering coming back to education?

Go back!!! It’s a great laugh and you will make a lot of friends. It also helps you in your career. I can talk more about stuff now and I have more confidence. I could tell you anything about inclusion these days because that’s what I’ve been doing most for the last year. Go for it!


For more information on the Learners as Leaders programme, please email AONTAS EU Projects Officer, Ecem Akarca:

You may also find the following links useful:

Development Perspectives:


Ability@Work (Cope Foundation):

AONTAS is running a national campaign from 1st – 14th September 2021 to raise awareness about returning to education as an adult. Are you thinking of returning to education? Visit today or call 1 800 303 669 (free) to speak directly with an AONTAS member of staff.