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Reporting from the YSI awards: The Blue Room

Mairead reports about projects aimed to make our world more sustainable, inclusive and fair

Written by Mairead McDonagh Bates and posted in opinion

This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for please contact

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On Tuesday the 8th of May 2018 Croke Park played host to The Young Social Innovators Awards (YSI) . Out of over 400 fantastic ideas and projects from schools all over Ireland, 33 were shortlisted and given the chance to pitch their innovative projects to five judges and a room full of onlookers. Hundreds of nervous and excited young people bustled around the venue. There were plenty of activities for students to participate, including everything from mindfulness workshops to an open mic session. I had the pleasure of being in the blue room which focused was on making our world a more sustainable, inclusive and fair world. Spectacularly lit with blue LED lights to set the tone, each team had four minutes to pitch their project. It followed by two minutes to answer questions from judges. In just six minutes these young social innovators were able to blow us away with the fantastic work they have done and will continue to do!

Make Our Future More Sustainable

A Dublin 13 school won the award for “Make Our Future More Sustainable” at the YSI Awards, along with the two other shortlisted school projects from Dublin 13 and Model Farm Co. Cork.

Off Grid

“Off Grid” by St. Fintans High School, Sutton, Dublin 13 won first prize for the challenge “Make Our Future More Sustainable”. They wanted us to think about sustainable energy; using renewable energy that does the least amount of damage to our world. They put solar panels in their school to provide their electricity. It saved the school €800 every year. They met with local TDs, councillors and ministers to discuss their ideas. They created plans with their local community and business for sustainable energy in the future. The students also created their own app; a step by step guide on how to install solar panels.

If you would like more information on the great work they did and are continuing to do you can check out their website.

Don’t throw away, try give away

“Don't throw away, try give away” from The Donahies Community School, Dublin 13, were also shortlisted for the “Make Our Future More Sustainable” award. They wanted us to think about our waste; how we can reduce it and help the homeless at the same time. They surveyed charities and homeless people and discovered that we have a lot of unnecessary waste in Ireland. We can change that by recycling and upcycling; instead of throwing away things we don't need or want we can make them into something else. They upcycled plastic, frames, old books, bottle caps and lots more. From the upcycled materials they made plant pots, furniture, flowers, and candles out of old candle wax and crayons. They received lots of donations of unwanted items from local businesses and gave them out to the homeless, such as clothes sanitary items and food. They also partnered with McDonald’s to organise a sticker collection point, in which they managed to fill 200 free hot drink cards for the homeless.

If you want to learn more about this great project you can check out their school website or watch their youtube video.

Global Warning

“Global Warning” by Mount Mercy College, Model Farm Road, Co.Cork were the third shortlisted project for the “Make Our Future More Sustainable” challenge. Their goal was to make their school 100% plastic bottle free by September 2019. They raised awareness about global warming and the benefits of using reusable non-plastic bottles instead of the regular plastic ones. From their research they learned that by 2050 there will be more plastic bottles than fish in our oceans. They met with local colleges, business and even international organisations to discuss their project. The students raised awareness through school announcements and events, and they managed to fundraise and get their whole community to sign a petition to ban plastic bottles from their schools. They have over 600 people following their social media accounts and post weekly updates about their project.

If you want to learn more about their plastic-free campaign you can check out their twitter.

Make Our World One World

A school from Dublin took home the award for “Make Our World One World” at the YSI awards. Along with two other shortlisted schools from Manor Farm, Co. Cork, and Dublin 13. They pitched their projects an eager audience in the Blue Room.

The Cycle of Life

Portmarnock Community School, Co.Dublin, took home the award with their project “The Cycle Of Life”. They created a new sustainable piece of farming equipment using a bike. It used low-till farming, which means that the soil is disturbed as little as possible. The bike gives off no emissions or gases making it even more beneficial for the environment.They wanted to reduce the damage done to soil, and prevent land becoming too damaged to grow crops on. They wanted to make farming as sustainable as possible, and also help developing communities get more out of farming. They used an old bicycle and added some extra pieces to make their machine. One of their bikes is now in Lesotho, Southern Africa, and it is helping to better the lives of 2000 people. From just one bike they can plant and grow crops faster, meaning that people are getting to harvest more crops than before. The locals can now sell the extra crops bringing in more money for their school and farm. Portmarnock Community School visit Lesotho every year and plan to run a program where they can teach the locals about branding and marketing products. They help the people of Lesotho to make the most money from their crops possible, and are helping them to get out of poverty. The students even got to showcase their bike at the Dublin Tech Summit. They plan to create more bikes and send them all over the world.

The Icitabo Project

“The Icitabo Project” from St.Fintans High School, Sutton, Dublin 13, were also shortlisted for the “Make Our World One World” award. Although the school didn’t win this award, they did receive the award for “Best Use of Mobile Technology for Positive Change”. Their goal was to build the first ever public library in Kabwe, Zambia. They wanted to improve the literacy for street children; help them to learn the English language, learn about their culture and help with their education. The students plan to educate Irish volunteers about Zambia's culture and language. Their school travels to Kabwe each year and they saw the need for more education. They plan to build the library from brick and have managed to fundraise over €4000 to help with their project. They have translated some Irish children's stories into Bemba, the language of Kabwe. They collected over 3000 books from the local community and created an app to teach Bemba phrases to Irish volunteers. The library will be a place for the children to learn and to escape from their troubles. They are spreading the world all over their community and local events. They have held workshops to educate people about Zambian culture and history. In 2019 they will travel to Kabwe to see their library and how it has impacted the local community.

If you want to learn more about this great project and keep up to date with the progress you can check out their website.

Bear Necessities

“Bear Necessities” a project by Mount Mercy College, Model Farm Road, Co.Cork that also got shortlisted for this award. They produced reusable sanitary pads, and plan to send them to Cameroon and Egypt to help girls and women in developing countries. They wanted us to be able to talk more openly about periods and to help stop discrimination against women in third world countries. They learned about ‘menstruation huts’ in Nepal; these are huts where women have to stay when they have their period because it is seen as shameful. They held a sewathon with the Irish Patchwork Association and managed to make 150 pads in 3 hours. They raised over €1200 through competitions on their social media accounts. The pads are made in dark colours and the part that gets dirty can be removed, it looks just like a rag when its been washed and can last up to three years. They created large posters all about periods and hung them all around their community to help get people talking about periods. They got the local community involved including Dunnes Stores and other local businesses. 

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Published May 16th2018
Tags ysi awards ysi young social innovators school
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