Abbey Community College, Waterford, students at the Young Social Innovators Speak Out Tour
Some 830 second-level students from Waterford and surrounding counties spoke out on local, national and international issues at the Young Social Innovators Speak Out Tour 2019 regional event at the Lyrath Estate Convention Centre, Kilkenny, on Friday.
Now in its 17th year, Young Social Innovators seeks to strengthen civic society by giving teenagers a platform to articulate their ideas, insights, passions and expertise. It challenges young people to creatively tackle social issues affecting them, their communities and wider society and to develop innovations that focus on the betterment of society and improve the lives of others.
As part of the Speak Out Tour, teenagers are given the opportunity to make a two-minute presentation setting out their aspirations for the kind of Ireland they want to live in – a vision they are trying to bring to reality through the social innovation projects on which they are working.
At Friday’s event, Abbey Community College students spoke about working to improve relationships between peers in transition year in an effort to promote respect and well-being.
Against the backdrop of Dáil100 and the upcoming local and European elections, Young Social Innovators is also calling on young people to ‘make your voice heard’ at a political level through a #TellYourTD campaign.
Co-founder and CEO of Young Social Innovators Rachel Collier said: “One hundred years ago, the first Dáil sat in the Mansion House in Dublin and began discussions on the formation of a democratic republic. Members outlined their vision, one that put the common good, and most particularly the well-being of our children and young people first.
“At this leg of the Young Social Innovators Speak Out Tour, we have many of these young citizens of Ireland who are not just setting out ideas but are actively engaged in designing solutions to address issues that affect us.”
She added: “In commemoration of the centenary of the first Dail, a key theme for Young Social Innovators in 2019 is participatory democracy. As a platform for youth voice in Ireland, we feel it is important that young people experience democracy in a real way and that young people feel that the political system is one that works for them on the issues they care about.
“We see many countries, not too far away, that are suffering from a democratic deficit, where the population feel disengaged and disconnected from local and national decision making. Our ability to engage citizens in meaningful ways is a necessary prerequisite for a healthy cohesive society, one that is fit to address the changes we know are necessary to achieve well-being, equality and environmental sustainability here and globally.”