Abbey Vocational School
Donegal Town

Young Social Innovators

Young Social Innovators

What is Young Social Innovators?

Young Social Innovators (YSI) is a nationwide competition for secondary school students that challenges young people to have a positive impact on their community.

The purpose of YSI initiative is for young people to realise that you can be a powerful catalyst for social change when you are given the opportunity and support to do so.

2023 Project - The Greenest Link

Social Issue of Concern: The social issue of concern our team has chosen to tackle is in relation to the lack of public transport facilities available in Donegal and we aim to combat the issue through the promotion of the Local Link facilities on offer in the county.

The European Commission outlined a strategic vision for achieving a climate neutral economy by 2050. A lot of these targets relate to public transport. In Ireland, the government has set up several different legislations encouraging people to use public transport in an effort to combat environmental pollution rather than using their own cars.

We hope to work with Transport for Ireland and the Donegal County Council to address any issues people have with the Local Link and we want to encourage those people who have been put off by their experiences to return to using the service.

Goal of Project: Through this project, we hope to tackle two major issues – reducing our contribution of carbon emissions into the environment and reducing Donegal’s reputation as a black spot for road traffic accidents especially amongst young people. We feel our promotion of the local link as a safe and reliable transport alternative will help us to tackle both of these major issues.

We could even say that ‘a journey shared is a problem halved!’

Project in Brief: While in the early stages of our project, we discovered that some people have had an unpleasant experience with the Local Link service and therefore were reluctant to use the service again. Problems included missed buses, late buses and sometimes longer journeys due to detours.

Through our initial research, we have found that the Local Link offers a variety of benefits to those who avail of the service such as a student rate for teenagers and extra buses with later times at weekends which enables people to get home safely if they are in town late.

We feel that this is an important issue to students because we are aware that many students in our school use the Local Link to meetup with friends, get home from town or get to and from work. We want to ensure that everyone has a positive experience with the Local Link.

Overall Impact: The team were awarded the Strong and Caring Communities Challenge Award at the YSI Awards on 2nd of May 2023 in Croke Park, Dublin. This is a fantastic achievement for the team and their YSI guide Ms. Kelly who have aimed to promote the Local Link service and campaign for the use of sustainable transport.

Instagram Handle: @thegreenestlink

2022 Project - Commotion in the Ocean

Social Issue of Concern: The social issue of concern our team has chosen to address is the impact of pollution on marine life. Oceans play an essential role in our life on earth. They provide us with over 50% of the oxygen we breathe and contribute to over 97% of the world's water supply. The pollution of our oceans not only affects marine life and their environment, but it also affects mankind. The equivalent of a bin lorry load of plastic is dumped in the sea every minute. This has resulted in over 150 million tonnes of plastic already floating in the sea. We want to play a part in addressing this issue.

Goal of Project:We hope to bring about awareness on how people can reduce their carbon footprint and in particular reduce the amount of pollution that is entering into our seas and oceans damaging marine life. Inspired by David Attenborough, “The ocean’s power of regeneration is remarkable – if we just offer it the chance”. We have this choice and together we can make this change.

Project in Brief:This project is important to us because if we continue as we are now without any change, we are going to be the ones responsible for having a detrimental effect on future generations. We can, right now, reduce the amount of plastic that we use in our everyday lives as well as stop using plastic unnecessarily.

We ran an awareness campaign in our school as well as through our social media page. On a local scale, we liaised with Donegal County Council to set up more bins near Donegal Pier to ensure our waste is not entering the water at this point. We organised regular beach clean ups and provided a resource pack which was shared with local primary schools in preparation for World Oceans Day 2022. We got in touch with our local county councillors and invited guest speakers to our school to help us combat this issue.

Overall Impact: The team were crowned the winners of the Climate Action and Energy Award at the YSI Finals on the 12th of May 2022. It was a fantastic achievement for the team who put so much hard work and dedication into their project to make it a success!

Instagram Handle: @commotionintheocean_avs

2021 Project - Unity in the Community

Issue of Social Concern:As a result of Covid-19, our world has dramatically changed. Social distancing has become our ‘new normal’ and unfortunately, it has had a major impact on the older generation. Due to government restrictions, many old people do not get to interact with family and friends. This is leading to isolation and loneliness which is a major issue of concern amongst elderly people.

Project Goal: The goal of the project is to combat loneliness and isolation amongst older people which has ultimately worsened due to Covid-19. Inspired by the launch of Captain Tom Moore’s podcast ‘The Originals’, we want to inspire young people to ‘donate their words’ and have meaningful conversations with older people.

Project in Brief:Our big idea for Unity in The Community is creative because we want to ensure that the older generation always have things to do and they are entertained during these difficult times. We did this by organising zoom calls into our local nursing home in Mullinalsole and arranged virtual activities such as bingo, quizzes and online concerts. We also set up a virtual fundraiser and raised €1000 for two charities – Friends of the Elderly and Age Action Ireland.

Overall Impact:The team were shortlisted for the YSI Awards 2021 in their category - Make our Country More Inclusive and Poverty Free Challenge. This was a fantastic achievement with nearly 200 teams entered in the competition. They also were nominated for the Donegal Youth Awards for their contribution to the local community.

Instagram Handle:@unityinthecommunity

2020 Project - Keeping Up With Reality

Issue of Social Concern:To assess the impact of reality TV and social media on the lives of young people.

Project Goal:Our goal is simple. We want young people to be happy in themselves, to stop comparing themselves to celebrities who have edited their photos to give the best version of themselves. That idea is unrealistic. Our big idea is getting more influencers on board with our campaign of uploading unfiltered pictures of themselves on Instagram with the hashtag #keepingupwithreality to show that it’s okay to be yourself and that you should be happy in your own body. At the end of the day, we are each our own celebrity because there is no one in the world quite like you.

Project in Brief: The main objective of this study is to see the positive and negative impact of social media and reality TV shows on teenagers. We will conduct a survey to gauge an understanding of how many students in our school watch reality TV and how they are influenced by it. We will use both quantitative and qualitative research methods to investigate our topic. We aim to get people talking about this issue that is prominent in our every day lives.

Overall Impact: The team won the YSI award for outstanding achievement in social and digital media. Over 200 celebrities and influencers got involved in their Instagram campaign and it received National coverage. An article was written by FamilyFriendlyHQ and one of our students got to speak on the Ray D’Arcy show as well as Louise Tigue’s show on Dublin’s 104fm and iRadio. Their campaign has helped to make young people aware of this issue and how they can combat it.

Instagram Handle: @keepingupwithreality2020

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The Glebe, Donegal Town, Co. Donegal, F94A409.
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