By Jamie Smyth- Irish Times
A SCHOOL from Blarney, Co Cork, has been named Young Social Innovator 2010 for setting up a youth cafe, which is due to open this September.
The judges of the competition said the Mill Youth Cafe planned by Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál was an “exceptional project” which was delivered with “great drive and ambition” by all those involved.
Second place went to Mercy Mounthawk, a school in Tralee, Co Kerry, for a mental health project called “Emotion Promotion”.
St Mary’s Secondary School, New Ross, Co Wexford, came third with a project to turn New Ross into a “fair trade” town.
More than 6,000 young people participated in Young Social Innovators 2010, a scheme that aims to develop social awareness and activism among young people.
This year about 400 social action projects were undertaken under the programme.
They tackled a wide range of social issues ranging from teenage mental health and bullying to substance abuse. There was also a rise in recession-linked projects with teenagers looking at ways of combating the effects of the crisis on young people and the community.
About 30,000 young people have taken part in events organised by the Young Social Innovators programme since it was founded in 2002 by Sr Stanislaus Kennedy and Rachel Collier.
“We have grown to a stage where there are young social innovators projects in every county and we are looking at how we can expand into every community,” said Ms Collier.
“We have embarked on a pilot programme with 18 schools and youthreach centres across Ireland, with the aim of developing a network of local centres and educators to ensure that all teenagers can become involved in projects that help their community,” she said.
Former rugby international Denis Hickie attended the awards ceremony in Croke Park yesterday, along with several Government Ministers