Meet the YSI Guide: Sascha Cumiskey
Sascha is a YSI Guide in Largy College, Clones, Co. Monaghan and is the fourth subject in our 'Meet the YSI Guide' series, 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.
Young Social Innovators of the Year Ireland Silver Award Winners 2019: 'We are All Human' guided by Sascha Cumiskey, Largy College, Clones.
Please can you tell us a little bit about your Young Social Innovators experience and the young people you have guided?
It is such a pleasure to be the YSI Guide to Largy College students over the years. They are a bundle of enthusiasm and passion and most of all energy! Their passion is infectious and every year my YSI Teams capture the hearts and minds of the whole school community.
What impact has Young Social Innovators had on you personally?
Mostly, it makes me incredibly proud. Proud of the students involved, proud of our school and proud of our community for embracing the work of their young people. Every year, the students who undertake the Young Social Innovators programme in our school inspire me to keep going and to continue believing that young people can catalyse positive change. Participating in the programme reinforces a passionately held belief that the future is in safe hands.
It is hugely rewarding to witness the growth in students over the course of their Young Social Innovators journey. Confidence in their own voices skyrocket. Their ability to negotiate within their own team, with teachers, school management and facets of their wider community grows akin to UN diplomacy.
Why is social innovation education important for young people?
Young Social Innovators innately captures what so many new DES initiatives set out to achieve, that is, student led learning and the development of the 'Student Voice'. Young Social Innovators taps into students' passions and the process of their campaign provides scope to develop and learn a panoply of transferable skills, highly valued by employers and industry.
Young Social Innovators allows students to grow in so many ways, the most important being a growth in confidence and the ability to problem solve and think critically. In many ways, a Young Social Innovators project is a microcosm of life. The team must identify the skills and resources they have as a pool and maximise each talent and resource to achieve as a whole. They identify problems and find ways to collectively solve these. Negotiation, arguments, deadlock and resolution all feature at some point. Planning and then resourcing those plans becomes necessary.
There is no doubt that the learning curve over the course of a Young Social Innovators project is steep, but the view from the top is magnificent!
I feel privileged to witness, first-hand, the diverse skills and talents that students have and to watch them put these talents to use in a really unique way. As a YSI Guide, I have learnt so much from my students over the years and this is why the programme is completely unique.
What advice would you give to other teachers who are thinking about doing Young Social Innovators?
Just go for it! The key to success is to tap into what makes students passionate. Be excited yourself, it is infectious. Accept that not every student (or teacher) will feel as enthusiastic as you do, but focus on the energy of those who will drive the project forward. There is a role for everyone. Sometimes roles are small and sometimes they can rival CEO positions! Prepare for a certain amount (or a lot) of mayhem and chaos but roll with it, if it's not chaos, where's the energy?! Accept that a good campaign will not fit neatly into one double (or ten doubles) per week but you will fuel up on the adrenaline of the class, buckle up and enjoy the ride!
Final golden nugget or pearl of wisdom?
It is nigh on impossible to put into words how, over the years, participating in Young Social Innovators has benefited not only the students involved in projects, but also our entire school and the community of Clones, Co. Monaghan. The ripple effect of the magic is far reaching and long lasting. As a collective, we stand a little bit taller, heads just a little bit higher. Thank you Young Social Innovators!
This interview has been edited and condensed.
I feel privileged to witness, first-hand, the diverse skills and talents that students have and to watch them put these talents to use in a really unique way.