Students from four Westmeath schools are heading to the RDS, Dublin on May 6 for the Young Social Innovators Showcase 2009.
St Joseph’s Secondary School, Rochfortbridge; Marist College, Athlone; Moate Community School, Moate; and St Joseph’s, Summerhill, Athlone will showcase their social action projects on issues ranging from poverty to sudden adult death syndrome which are among the 120 selected for this annual exhibition from the hundreds undertaken by young people across the country.
They will also be in contention for the Young Social Innovators of the Year awards, which will be announced on the day with the overall project team receiving a grant to further their work. Last year Colaiste Muire from Ennis, Co Clare won the overall title for a project on bullying. The showcase – the largest youth action event of its kind in the country – is open to the public and in addition to the exhibition includes workshops, a Speak Out youth theatre, poster gallery, and speakers’ corner as well as a special YSI Den where young people can pitch for support and resources to continue their chosen project.
Participation in this year’s Young Social Innovators programme was the highest ever with a 16 per cent increase in the number of schools and educational centres, taking part and a 22 per cent increase in the number of projects undertaken. According to Rachel Collier, chief executive, Young Social Innovators, this growth can be attributed to the 25,000 young people who have participated in YSI projects so far. “They have helped establish youth cafes, developed peer education programmes, bought equipment for their schools and communities, and campaigned and implemented award-winning programmes on issues such as mental health, road safety, bullying, and alcohol abuse. Independent research from the University of Limerick shows that young people learn from their involvement in YSI projects that they can make a difference. The word is spreading,” she said.