Students from 15 schools across Kilkenny and neighbouring counties were among the group of young people who gathered at the Lyrath Estate Hotel and Convention Centre, Kilkenny last Thursday to speak out about the social issues that concern them and present their ideas and solutions for tackling them.
They were all participating in the Young Social Innovators’ Social Innovation Programme 2013. Cyber bullying, homelessness, childhood arthritis and autism are among some of the social issues that were addressed at the Speak Out.
County Cathaoirleach Marie Fitzpatrick formally opened the event that morning. Also in attendance on the day were Brian Cody, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy and Rachel Collier, co-founders of Young Social Innovators, and David Burns of Sand 2 Snow Adventures.
The students, in their project teams, made a two-minute presentation on the social issue they were tackling under the YSI programme and the actions they are taking to bring about positive change. As 2013 is the European Year of the Citizen, it is all the more important that young people as youth citizens feel empowered in their role as social innovators.
The YSI programme is open to 15-18 year olds through schools and youth organisations. It challenges young people to explore social issues of relevance to them and gives them the skills and know-how to bring about change in their communities and wider society.
Over 42,000 young people have participated in YSI since it was founded in 2001. Under a new partnership with the Vodafone Ireland Foundation, Young Social Innovators aims to more than double the number of participants in the programme and build an empowered network of 100,000 young social innovators across Ireland by 2015.