Picking up the Innovative Response to Covid-19 Award, a team from Coláiste Muire, Cobh was recognised for its Get Out and Play project. Our team’s focus was on raising awareness of poor mental health and rising rates of anxiety and depression amongst teens. The team identified isolation and the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic as factors that are contributing to this increase and clubs being closed meant that young people became more isolated, while the use of technological devices increased. The team believes that membership of clubs has a positive impact on the wellbeing of young people, and that there is a club for everyone in the community.

The team conducted a survey to establish the reasons why teenagers are not engaged in clubs and compiled a list of all the clubs and organisations in their community. The team were proactive in contacting clubs in the community and invited them to their open day. As well as this, the team invited a speaker from the Public Health Department of UCC to their school to speak with students. The Get Out and Play team are planning to produce a leaflet that will provide information about all the clubs in their town to encourage participation in a bid to improve young people’s wellbeing.

Now in its 21st year, YSI focuses on empowering Ireland’s young people to reimagine the world and the communities they live in, by developing and implementing ideas that help create a fairer, more equal, and sustainable world. Last week’s Awards ceremony was compered by Virgin Media’s Zara King along with former Hometown member, and YSI Speak Out Tour Host, Dayl Cronin. It was a huge celebration of teenagers’ achievements in what has been a challenging year for students and their teachers.

This year’s programme saw participation from 6,123 Irish teenagers and the development of 423 social innovation projects nationwide on a wide range of issues including health and wellbeing, diversity and inclusion, the environment and sustainability and much more. 35 shortlisted projects competed for today’s headline and Challenge Awards with a variety of innovative projects.

About Young Social Innovators (YSI):

Young Social Innovators is a non-profit organisation that believes in the power of youth. Its vision is to empower, equip and inspire young people to change the world for good. Through its programmes, training and events, Young Social Innovators enables young people to grapple with difficult social issues, advocating reform and advancing change. Each year, circa 15,000 young people are supported to explore social issues that concern them and come up with a variety of responses to these. In this way, Young Social Innovators builds social capital and helps young people create a fairer and more caring Ireland.

YSI is supported by the Department of Rural and Community Development, the Department of Education, Tomar Trust, the Health Service Executive, the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, the Department of Social Protection, Pobal, the Dormant Accounts Fund, the Community Foundation of Ireland, Virgin Media, EirGrid, Aviva Ireland, and Irish Aid’s WorldWise Global Schools. Further support is received from, Dublin City Council, Cork City Council, and the Smurfit Foundation.