YSI Blog

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Teens impress dragons at YSI Den 2021

This month’s virtual YSI Den proved to be a great success! Taking place over the course of 3 days, the YSI Den saw 25 teams from across Ireland pitch to our Den Panel members in our Dublin, Regional and Cork Dens. Throughout the week, YSI was able to supply teams with some €10,000 in funding as well as means and mentoring to support their projects. This Social Innovation Fund is made available every year by YSI to help bring young people's ideas to life.

This year, Den participants addressed a wide range of issues including mental health, body positivity, road safety, equality and the environment.

Students from Newtown School, Waterford secured €550 in funding to develop their project aimed at educating primary school children on issues relating to inequality and discrimination. The Waterford teens plans to create a children’s book and accompanying diverse doll to help communicate their message of diversity and inclusion to a primary school audience. They also plan to create a podcast in order to promote their message of equality to a wider audience.

Our team has thought deeply about how our project will impact people both now and into the future. We feel that education is one of the most powerful tools to use. We plan on educating young children on why everyone should be treated equally by promoting diversity and explaining equality in a fun and simple way so they can understand. By living in a more equal world, it means people feel safe, accepted and are able to live their best life and reach their full potential without others dragging them down.

Zara Notley, YSI Team Member - Newtown School, Waterford

Students from St. Mary’s CBS, Portlaoise secured €270 in funding to advance their project aimed at making their school more inclusive for visually impaired students. Witnessing the support needed by their visually impaired classmates to safely navigate the school building, the YSI team ‘Fight For Sight’ want to introduce braille signage, maps and systems throughout the school to enable a greater degree of independence for these students.

Our aim is to raise awareness about visual impairments and create a more inclusive environment for people with visual impairments to be more independent and live a more normal day to day life. We have spoken to students who are visually impaired about their needs and we have tried to get to know the difficulties they face. We appreciate this is a huge issue that needs to be addressed and, most importantly, we are very passionate about this project. If successful, it will make it easier for students with visual impairment to live a normal life and have more independence in their day to day lives in a safe environment.

Luke Walsh, YSI Team Member - St. Mary's CBS, Portlaoise

Professionals from across a variety of industries and local authorities took part by listening to the teams’ pitches and providing feedback to their solutions to social problems affecting them, their schools and their communities.

Here's what some of our panelists had to say:

What a privilege to be asked to participate with Young Social Innovators’ Den - such an inspiration to hear from articulate and motivated students about great projects focused on making real change for good with the support of some great teachers. Consistent themes of kindness, inclusion, wellness, sustainability and equality!

Paul Farrell, Managing Director - Virgin Media Television

Blown away by the passion, creativity and compassion displayed by the young students in presenting their proposals to make a real positive impact to our communities, environment & society.

Paul Kelly, Marketing Director - Unilever

This year, we were also delighted to have former YSI participant Jacqui Walsh on our Cork Den panel. Jacqui was part of the 2012 Davis College team from Mallow whose Forget Me Not project led to the establishment of Ireland’s Missing Persons Day. 

Taking part in YSI was such an empowering experience, it equipped me with the skills to change the world for good. Almost 10 years on, I am a panellist on The Den, which gives me the opportunity to empower the next generation of change makers.

Jacqui Walsh, Former YSI Participant & Social Impact Analyst - Rethink

Our YSI 2021 Events schedule continues with the Speak Out Virtual Tour and YSI Week, which will both take place the 12th – 16th April this year!  We have an exciting week of advocacy and action planned. Stay tuned for more information!