Five teams of trailblazing students from Donegal are off to Croke Park this Tuesday to compete for the national title of Young Social Innovators of the Year.
Students from Scoil Mhuire Buncrana, Mulroy College, Abbey VS and Loreto Letterkenny were selected among the Top 34 YSI teams from across Ireland for the challenge awards on Tuesday 8th May.
One group, Better Safe Than Sorry, has set out to make Letterkenny a safer place. The seven-strong team includes Amy Sweeney, Sarah Hassett, Caoimhe Lafferty, Hannah Reynolds, Roisín McNamara, Melissa Tinney and Alisha McLaughlin.
The girls have been thinking outside the box (or inside!) to enhance personal safety in Letterkenny, and have come up with a winning idea of transforming the old phone boxes on the Main Street into a safety zone.
Amy Sweeney tells Donegal Daily the inspiration behind the idea:“We sat down and discussed many social issues that affect our town, but we eventually all decided on personal safety as it we knew it was a serious problem in our town. We knew someone had to bring a change after all the recent attacks etc in Letterkenny.”
“We met with the local gardaí regarding the CCTV footage in Letterkenny and also met many times with the Chamber of Commerce to discuss our project.”
‘Better Safe Than Sorry’ explored ways to use the old Eircom phone box, located on the Main Street near Market Square, as a ‘safe zone’. This would be an area to go to if a person felt they were in danger. The phone could be used to contact safe taxi numbers on and the emergency services.
The simple but effective idea is exactly what Young Social Innovators (YSI) is all about – addressing social issues in the community. Through their project, the girls have raised extra awareness and concern for personal safety in the town.
The idea impressed investors at the YSI Dragons Den, who offered a €500 grant and a mentor to help them further with the project. The team also pitched to judges at the YSI speak-out in the Balor Arts Centre in Ballybofey. They were then selected as the Top 34 projects in Ireland and to attend the All Ireland finals in Croke Park on Tuesday.
The project was a real team and community effort, Amy added: “We received great support on social media and in our school.
“We would not be where we are if it wasn’t for our amazing teacher and guide, Ms Siobhan McKeague. We also have received great support from our principal, Ms Friel, our three vice principals, Ms McHugh, Sister Ger and Ms Rodgers.”