YSI Awards 2023
Young Social Innovators of the Year Awards back at Croke Park!
34 shortlisted teams of Young Social Innovators from all over Ireland travelled to Croke Park on 03 May to pitch and compete for 17 awards.
Young Social Innovators were thrilled to host the YSI Awards in Croke Park this May, it had been a whole three years since our last in-person Awards, and we were so excited to meet you all in person again! 34 shortlisted teams from around the country were invited to travel to Croke Park to participate in this year’s final to pitch for the 17 awards available. There was a range of award categories up for grabs, including the coveted Young Social Innovators of the year Gold, Silver and Bronze Awards.
It was an early start for most, with breakfast and registration starting at 8.30 am (we know, we know! Not ideal for a Tuesday after a bank holiday but at least you were getting up early for a great reason)! As the teams arrived from all four corners of Ireland, such as Donegal, Longford, Wexford and Sligo, just to name a few - sleepy but excited heads were seen arriving on the day!
From 9am the YSI Awards was officially open. Some of the great activities available were the open mic (I witnessed a fabulous Dolly Parton performance), the games room, which included giant jenga, chess, old school video games, chess etc and the diary room where we asked about your YSI experience, which was very Big Brother-esque! And how could we forget the 360 camera, which captured all the fun and excitement of the day (and possibly embarrassment for some - no need, we’re all friends here!)
At 9.30am the finalist pitching began - there were three different rooms, (the green, blue and red room) where teams would go to pitch live to judges. If you’re wondering what the live pitches look like, the teams have four minutes to pitch and two minutes for the panel to have an opportunity to ask questions. The best way to describe it is a more formal version of the Speak Out, and an opportunity to present your brilliant ideas to a panel of judges from varied backgrounds! And all the decision making is made on the day, by the panel - which is very exciting!
As part of our event we also invited a number of our Elevate teams to join us on the day.YSI Elevate is an initiative and support network that helps YSI teams continue their social innovation project after transition year. The four Elevate teams who were at the Awards this year were; The Food Fund, Carry on Caring, RACE and LGB Teens. YSI Elevate is an accelerator initiative and support network that helps young people who want to continue to advance their social innovation projects and continue creating social impact - read more about YSI Elevate here.
There were a number of exhibitors at the Awards from organizations such as; BelongTo, ISSU, CyberSafe Kids, SpunOut, National Youth Council of Ireland, Immigrant Council of Ireland, Webwise and ISPCC. All of these organisations' work contributes to improving the well-being of people and society, to find out more about any of the organisations just click on their names!
By 1.30pm the judges had made their final decisions and we were ready to present the Awards. Virgin Media's Zara King and YSI superstar Dayl Cronin were on hand to present the 2023 Awards ceremony where we saw a highlight reel of the Speak Out Tour from the year and a highlight reel from the Diary Room, which we don't think you were expecting! Dayl was on hand once again to help us shake off the cobwebs and wake us up with a dance before the ceremony got underway, if you weren't a good dancer before YSI you'll certaintly be better by the time you're finished!
Everyone who participated at the Awards on the day were absolutely brilliant, so it was extremely hard for the panel to choose winners in each category as each team had brilliant projects and such innovative ideas. The Bronze Award went to Firhouse Educate Together for their project 'Womens' Safety Week, the Silver Award went to Rosses Community School for their project 'Go with the Flow of Your Menstrual Waves' and finally the Gold Award went to Holy Family School for the Deaf with their brilliant project - ''Deaf Awareness - A Language for All''. You can read about this year's Bronze, Silver and Gold winners here!
These three winning projects are just a few examples of the incredible work of young people across Ireland to create a better, more just, and more equitable society.
The Young Social Innovators of the Year Awards are a powerful reminder of the importance of investing in youth-led social innovation and providing young people with the resources, support, and recognition they need to make a real difference in their communities and beyond. We look forward to seeing what you all do next!
Read about all the teams that took home awards on the day here!