The Young Social Innovators event took place in Louth on March 13th, with over 100 young people getting together to use their power, initiative, and influence to create a more equal society, by highlighting inequalities and social issues that they feel need to change to impact the lives of generations to come.
Patrician High School in Carrickmacross practically highlighted two issues I feel are a huge threat to young people in Ireland; Alcohol abuse, and drug abuse.
The four young men focusing on alcohol abuse highlighted many interesting statistics, including the fact that each day in 2013, three people died as a result of an addiction to alcohol. Upon further research, an article published in April of 2015 by the Independent, stated that 25% of young people started drinking at the age of 13. This shocking information is made more worrying by the fact that 2,424 of the 2,716 adolescents admitted to drinking at least once (meaning that the total number of people between 15 and 17 years of age that have consumed alcohol to be 83%)
Shockingly, 50% of secondary school students had admitted to drinking between one to five units of alcohol in March in 2015, with a further 37% admitting to being ‘very drunk’ in the month on one to three occasions.
However, there’s no running away from the fact that reality television plays a huge part in the glamorisation of binge drinking. Take Geordie Shore, one of the biggest television programmes for young people, where their story line is built around binge drinking, sex, and cheating on partners, as the cast are ‘paid to party’. On the eight series, the audience reached its peak, getting an audience measurement of over one million. Majority of the episodes claim to be suitable for those over the age of 15, however, people of this age should not be exposed to this way of living. The cast have revealed that they go through 1,300 bottles of vodka alone each series, making that 130 bottles per episode. To put this into perspective, Marnie Simpson, a cast of the show, was rushed to hospital due to a kidney infection. The 24 year old’s kidneys completely shut down due to the excessive amount of alcohol she was drinking on the show, and now has a rare bladder condition from it.
Again, another group of young men from the school focused on another huge addiction problem facing young people; drugs.
The group opened their presentation with the definition of addiction; a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use. They also highlighted the fact that addiction is a medical condition, whether its with alcohol, drugs, medication or Tobacco.
Cannabis has made its way to the most used drug between those of the age of 15 to 64, with 27.9% of people within the age bracket commonly using the substance. With one in five of us using the substance, many young people do not see the issue with cannabis as they see it as a sedative, however, many run away from the fact that it trigger anxiety, insomnia and depression.
Between their 2 minutes on stage, the boys rightfully decided to focus their time on spotting the signs of somebody under the influence; bloodshot eyes, weight loss and slurred speech. Also, they repeatedly referred to the strong message that addiction is a disease that affects the whole family- one many use it, but everybody suffers.
The power of young people
The power of young people is often undermined. However, after seeing the passion of over 100 young people from Cavan, Louth, Monaghan and Dublin coming together to achieve collective change, it is clear that the future is bright for all of us, as they continue their work towards making history for the nation and creating a more equal society.
Sarah attended the YSI SpeakOut Tour as a volunteer reporter. If you’re interested in learning more about our volunteering roles, visit our ‘Get Involved‘ page. Email [email protected] if you are interested in getting involved.