In Kilkenny’s Loreto Secondary School, transition year students take part in Young Social Innovators (YSI) programme.
It aims to get young people involved in the world around them by organising and developing projects that raise funds and/or awareness about an issue about which they are passionate.
For one group’s YSI project, they picked the challenge, ‘Making our world fair and just’, deciding to focus on the issue of physical disability. They felt that this was an issue that was extremely relevant to our local community in Kilkenny and that the needs of wheelchair users are sometimes overlooked.
The group contacted a number of disability related organisations, such as the National Advocacy Service and the Wheelchair Association, to learn about the day-to-day hassles that affected wheelchair users and see if their was a way to improve the situation. After talking with the Kilkenny Wheelchair Basketball Team, they discovered that the team did not have enough wheelchairs to participate in competitions.
After discussing the best ways of fundraising for the cause, the group remembered that charity wristbands are very popular amongst the teenagers in the school, and that this would be an excellent way of raising awareness of the issue. However, money had to be raised to get enough to buy the wristbands online.
The group held a Christmas-themed cake sale in the school canteen, and then held a tea and coffee afternoon for the fourth years. They were a great success, and there was enough money raised to order the wristbands online. They will be sold in Loreto and the local primary school.
One of the organisations, Access Group Kilkenny, told the transition year students of the difficulties that people in wheelchairs have in navigating around Kilkenny. The girls are planning to investigate this, and hopefully in the next month, three students will travel through town in a wheelchair and take note of the places that you can and cannot access.
The students hope to purchase two wheelchair basketball wheelchairs for the wheelchair association, and to make a difference to the local community.