Reporting from 'The Green Room' at the YSI Awards 2018
Jodie highlights three health-focused projects from the YSI Awards 2018
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Coffee and pastries welcomed the hundreds of students who descended from all over the country to attend the Young Social Innovators awards, on Tuesday, May 8th. The event invited 33 shortlisted projects from over 400 initial entrants to Croke Park. Here they got a chance to showcase and celebrate their social innovations. Even after an extremely early start for most schools, the event was buzzing with energy right from the get-go. The Ulster Bank funded awards provided a wide variety of activities to keep students engaged throughout the day. From open mics and podcasts to art and mindfulness, it was far from a dull day for these social innovators.
One of the main focal points for the 33 teams involved was their project presentations across the three pitch rooms. The Red Room, The Blue Room and The Green Room (all lit colour accordingly). Positioned in the Green Room for the day I enjoyed presentations from the 3 health-focused categories: Mental health, physical health and sexual health. In the other two rooms, the focus was our world and how to make it a safer, happier and eco-friendlier place. ArdScoil Mhuire Co. Limerick was awarded Gold for their #keepitpg project dealing with sexting.
Coming from a similar angle were the Relationships and sexual health projects inside The Green Room. The presentations kicked off bang on time at 9:30 with a warm applause of welcome. The panel consisted of 5 judges who praised and engaged with the students fantastically throughout the morning. Each project was given a 4-minute presentation and 2-minute Q&A to convince the judges they were this year's Young Social Innovators.
Don’t Fuss Just Discuss Sexual Health
“Unplanned pregnancy” “Rape” “Abortion” “Do we have your attention now?” were the words that opened Meanscoil Gharman’s presentation as they ran through the audience to the stage. The Wexford based school immediately showcased that they were not afraid to talk about these issues, deemed as controversial. Their project “Don’t Fuss Just Discuss Sexual Health” had the aim of breaking the stigma around discussing sexual health. The staggering statistics outlined by the students informed us that 2/3 students had not been educated in sexual health. The students discussed how they started their project with themselves by saying to their parents “Let’s put the kettle on we need to talk about sexual health”. They continued to discuss how they sat down with their school principal and listened to her experiences of starting the conversation with her own family. They shared their experience of the conversation with all classes in their school and encouraged them to start the conversation at home. They also organised a nurse to come in each year and educate the TY'S on the subject. The mature conduct and well-composed answers of the team was the perfect start to this well-needed conversation.
Skin No Win
The second pitch of this category came from Ballincollig Community School. The team from Co Cork described themselves as "determined and passionate women". Their project and the gender-neutral slogan "Skin No Win" deals with the important topic of consent and how seeing skin isn't always a win. They described their aim as educating themselves so they could educate others, a fantastic approach to the topic. They began working at raising awareness. They detailed how they organised a flash mob in their local shopping centre to raise awareness. They talked about how this was a great way to involve the whole school and wider community in the project. When asked about further actions they were taking they impressively discussed how they were gaining signatures on a petition they plan on taking to Richard Bruton. They concluded on a very positive note describing the charity work they carried out with the Cork Sexual Violence Centre.
Healthy Relationships and How to Recognise Them
The final project in this category discussed Healthy and Unhealthy relationships. The Co Clare team listed the warning signs of an unhealthy relationship e.g. jealousy and anger against the much nicer equality and respect of a healthy relationship. The team provided everyone in their school (St Josephs) with a bookmark listing the healthy and unhealthy signs. By providing their classmates with this information they stressed how important it is that a relationship is not one-sided. They focused on friendship as well as love interests and held a tea morning to encourage healthy communication and friendship. They also ran a poster campaign in their school to target bullying. The project will be carried on by the 2018/19 TY class in the school.
Throughout the day so many young people and their teams sparked intelligent conversation about a wide variety of topics. Their carefully thought out and pitched projects are definitely something to be admired. The passion and respect of every young person present paints the picture of a bright and positive Irish future.
Jodie attended the YSI Awards as s SpunOut.ie volunteer reporter. You can learn more about this volunteering opportunity here. Fill in the form or get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in being a SpunOut.ie reporter.