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Five Offaly schools have taken part in Young Social Innovators Speak Out Tour that took place on March 14 and 15 in the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, as part of the 2018 YSI Speak Out Tour, which will visit 8 counties throughout February and March
Students from Ard Scoil Chiarain Naofa Clara, Coláiste Naomh Cormac Kilcormac, Sacred Heart Secondary School Tullamore, St. Mary's Secondary School Edenderry and Tullamore College were among 1163 students attended the Speak Out held in Ballinasloe.
The Speak Out Tour, supported by Ulster Bank, is part of the Young Social Innovators of the Year Ireland Awards, which challenge young people to think differently and come up with ways to tackle social issues affecting them and their communities.
Across the country, 7,000 students, making up a total of almost 400 teams, are participating in the YSI programme. Of these teams, 30 will be shortlisted to compete for the national title of Young Social Innovators of the Year on the 8th of May 2018 in the Croke Park, Dublin.
Social innovations address human need such as homelessness, poverty, exclusion, racism and immigration – issues high on the social and political agenda in Ireland and across the world today. The Speak Out Tour gives these young people the opportunity to advocate around such issues and demonstrate how they are coming up with responses and solutions to real life issues.
The format of the event is a two-minute presentation by teams on stage to an audience of their peers, invited guests and a YSI Panel. The teams that presented at the Speak Out in Drogheda spoke on a wide range of issues including domestic abuse, mental health, farm safety, cyber bullying, homelessness and disability.
CEO of Young Social Innovators, Rachel Collier said: “Marketeers, advertisers and insight companies are committing huge resources to analysing the preferences and behavioural patterns of young people so they can plan campaigns for future products and technologies. They are the first generation born to be digital, and that’s why there is a massive urge to understand what makes them tick.
“But despite all of the research, there’s a real deficit in opportunities for young people to be truly heard and listened to. Researchers tell us that Generation Z care about the world they live in and want to make a positive contribution. In the most recent spate of US school-gun massacres, some of the most considered voices in the debate were those of the young people directly affected. They were united on tackling the problem of gun control, rather than knee-jerk measures. Their considered views outflanked some of the political classes.
“It’s important to create more opportunities to hear the voices of the next generation. We need a pipeline of leaders, innovators and change-makers, and we all must adapt to make the space for this generation to emerge and be heard. These leaders won’t emerge through research and spreadsheets, they will emerge through personal engagement and activism and this is something we want to encourage and facilitate.”
Commenting on 2018 Speak Out Tour Gerry Mallon, CEO of Ulster Bank, YSI’s Official Awards Partner, said: “The YSI Speak Out Tour gives young people a voice on issues that they care about, empowering them in a profound and tangible way. For the past three years, in supporting YSI, Ulster Bank has become so acutely aware of what the next generation has to offer us. What’s clear from the YSI Speak Outs is that young people want to roll up their sleeves and make a real difference. It’s been a privilege for us to give voice to this generation.”