Forget Me Not
Davis College, Mallow, Co. Cork
Young Social Innovators of the Year 2012
Twelve years ago, Nancy Shanahan’s world was torn apart. Her son, Gussie, spent a night out with friends and never came home. However, despite more than a decade having passed since her son’s disappearance, Nancy still leaves her back door unlocked in the hope that some day, Gussie will walk back through it.
Like many who are missing a loved one, Nancy’s story is one of enduring hope. All too often, however, the issue of missing persons is largely forgotten by the wider community. It was this that led students at Davis College, Mallow, to develop their inspirational project; Forget Me Not. The project is a continuation of a previous YSI project, Missing Persons, and it aims to raise awareness of the issue of missing persons, and to raise funds to ensure that the search for missing persons can continue.
The students were both ambitious and creative in their undertaking. They developed several unique strategies to ensure the success of the national Forget Me Not campaign. They lobbied the government with a petition signed by over 12,000 people calling for the introduction of a National Missing Persons Day. A bus shelter campaign and a billboard in Merrion Square, Dublin, made a personal appeal for the Taoiseach’s backing of the measure.
The Exit Point Strategy was another inspired strand of the project. The group developed a poster and placemat campaign which featured in numerous Irish airports (Cork, Shannon, Farronfore, Knock), Ports (Dublin and Rosslare), Ferries (Stenaline and Irish Ferries) and an in-flight sleeve (national Irish Airline for 12 months). These featured the names and photos of people currently missing, with the aim of encouraging people to be vigilant. They also met with the Minister for Justice and President Higgins and addressed a joint committee on Justice, Defence and Equality in the Dail.
To raise funds for the continuing search for missing persons, the group sold a Forget Me Not calendar and were successful in convincing the supermarket chain Tesco to stock it. They also participated in a Christmas trade fair to help boost sales. This dedicated fundraising made a direct contribution to the recovery of the body of a missing teenager in Galway..
The group also campaigned tirelessly, sharing their message in a TV4 documentary, the NAPD conference in Killarney and also a radio show. Through the e-learning platform Moodle, the team launched an interactive platform for schools across Europe to follow and emulate their campaign. They also promoted their campaign on a trip to Leytonstone School of Business and Enterprise in London. Their efforts won the support of thousands, including many TDs.
Forget Me Not is a truly inspirational project. Kate McCann, whose daughter Madeline has been missing for several years, was one of many to congratulate the group’s effort, saying “The one thing that unsettles us the most is the thought that that very special person in your life could be forgotten. It is a real comfort to know that there are kind and committed people out there, such as your students, who are trying so hard to ensure this doesn’t happen. Thank you!”
YSI Den Summary
What the team pitched for:
The team sought funding to spread their Missing Persons Awareness Campaign, through advertisement in bus shelters, billboards and newspapers.
YSI Den Grant
The team was awarded €800 towards advertising to highlight their Missing Person Awareness Campaign.
YSI Award Winner
Young Social Innovators of the Year Title Holders