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Meet the YSI Guide: Lorraine Crowley

Lorraine is a YSI Guide in Killarney Community College, Co. Kerry and is the third subject in our new series of Meet the YSI Guide articles promoting and amplifying the work of dedicated educators who help facilitate thousands of young people through youth-led social innovation education around Ireland every year.

Lorraine Crowley (far left) pictured with YSI students from the 'Be Demential Aware' project that she guided in 2019-2019.

Please tell us a little bit about your Young Social Innovators experience and the young people you have guided?
I have been a Young Social Innovators guide for five years and it has been such a positive experience for me personally, for my teaching and also for all the students I guided. 

Students absolutely love the experience of creating a change in their school and community and also enjoy the learning aspects from Young Social Innovators. I have seen it bring out the best in my students. Their creativity, innovation, enthusiasm, communication and organisational skills have all been boosted through the programme. 

What impact has Young Social Innovators had on you personally? 
Young Social Innovators has led me to guide young people to follow their dreams of making a difference. 

It’s a very different experience from the usual classroom setting and I feel I have created a positive student-teacher relationship with the young people working on their projects. It has helped me to inspire young people to use different creative and communication skills that they may not have ever used in a classroom. 

It has let me see students as young people making a difference in our community as well as have lots of fun throughout the year. As a result of my experience with my teams over the years, I see Guidance Counselling as an option for me in the future.

'Be Dementia Aware' project team presenting at a YSI Speak Out event 2019.

Why is social innovation education important for young people? 
Social innovation education is extremely important for young people as it is visible how much they grow throughout the year. When I start Young Social Innovators at the beginning of the year and explain to the group that they have to go up on stage during the Speak Out Tour, the reaction is just what you expect…The students say “No way am I doing that!” But by the time March comes, the passion and creativity comes out of the students and every one of them are ready to get up on that stage and present the issue they care most about. 

Through Young Social Innovators, the students learn valuable 21st Century Skills and the programme gives them the initiative to think outside of the box. They deal with situations that they might not have dealt with until they get into the workforce.

What advice would you give to other teachers who are thinking about doing Young Social Innovators?
Just go for it! There is so much support from the YSI Learning and Practice Support Team and useful online resources there to help YSI Guides along the way. You will not regret getting involved as the students absolutely love it and you have so much fun along the way. 

The biggest bit of advice I would give though is to allow the group choose an issue they are really passionate about, as otherwise it might not go as planned throughout the year.

Final golden nugget or pearl of wisdom? 
Allow the young people to lead the way to making our community and world a better place to live for them by participating in Young Social Innovators! 

This interview has been edited and condensed.