Westmeath youth put spotlight on social issues

Students from Colaiste Mhuire, Mullingar; Mercy Secondary School, Kilbeggan; Moate Community School; Our Lady’s Bower, Athlone; St Joseph’s College, Athlone; and St Joseph’s Secondary School, Rochfortbridge gathered at the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone last week to ‘speak out’ on the social issues that concern them. 

The students were participating in the Young Social Innovators ‘All Ireland Speak Out’ tour. The programme gives young people the skills to examine social problems and bring about the changes they wish to see in their communities and wider society.

The event was opened by former Minister Mary O’Rourke and was attended by 400 young people as well as representatives of voluntary and community organisations. The audience heard interactive presentations on local, national, and global issues ranging from teenage cancer, farm safety, autism awareness, and poverty to animal cruelty with the young people highlighting the practical steps they are taking to tackle them as part of their YSI project. 

Co-founder and director of Young Social Innovators, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, said of this year’s Speak Out tour, “Too often young people are dismissed by society as being self-absorbed. What we’ve witnessed are young people who are completely engaged in society and prepared to play an active role in resolving some of our most pressing social issues. Their passion and energy point towards a generation that will be a powerful force for good”.  

This year’s programme culminates with the Annual Showcase of Young Social Innovators on May 7 in Citywest.

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