02 Jul 2022

Kilkenny Youthreach scoops national award with creative Big Idea for the future

Kilkenny Kilkenny

Kilkenny Youthreach students discussing their Big Idea were Jack Brennan, Tori Boyd, Martin Smith, Conor O’Grady and Jack Lanigan

A group of Kilkenny teenagers have scooped a national award for their Big Idea!

The Kilkenny Youthreach team was keen to provide a winning solution for ‘Mental Health - Spaces and Places’ and did so with 'The Lounge,' a concept for a new type of youth space.

“This project was simply amazing. A clear winner in the category. It was practical and inspiring with a great sense of the team’s individual voices and experiences. The presentation was very impressive and showed how dedicated they were,” said Kim Mackenzie-Doyle, the Big Idea programme founder and award-winning designer.

Portable wind turbines, sustainable housing domes, a disease tracker app, and reward schemes for recycling are just some of the award-winning ideas that Irish students have generated as part of the new Big Idea programme.

Around 2,000 students from schools across Ireland were tasked with coming up with Big Ideas to tackle five of Ireland’s biggest issues – climate change, mental health, the housing crisis, healthcare and equality.

Trash Scan by St Leo’s College in Carlow was announced  as the overall winner of The Big Idea thanks to the students’ clever idea of rewarding recycling through the use of QR codes and offering recycling instructions on products.

The winning team members, Jessica Korposh, Eva Cooney, Isabella O’ Byrne and Lily Redmond, wanted to address the issue of fast fashion and support a circular economy, linking local recycling services through an app which rewards users when they reduce, reuse, recycle.

Category winners get a bespoke medal for each team member, and the overall winners get the Big trophy and a cheque for €2000 to share.
The winning team and teacher will get the opportunity to travel to Dublin to work with the multi-award-winning strategic design company, Fjord to develop their Big Idea, while the winning team and teacher also win tickets to Web Summit 2022, hosted in Lisbon. 

The free, creative education programme is in its second year and was designed to empower the next generation to tackle big, local to global challenges using creative thinking.

This year it was delivered to Transition Year, Leaving Certificate Applied and Youthreach students. The programme was also trialled this year with students with autism. 

With a whopping 400 judges and mentors this year, the Big Idea team is already signing up mentors for the 2023 programme – requiring up to 800 mentors next year to support the 4,000 students who are ready to participate. 

Programme judge Rebecca Phelan of MSD congratulated the students saying the programme was innovative, resulting in many forward-thinking projects across Ireland.

Professor Justin Magee of Ulster University was “blown away” by the standard of creativity which he described as second to none and Lucky Mlotshwa of Suir Engineering says he was inspired by the process of judging the projects.

Emma Geoghegan of the Dublin School of Architecture at TU Dublin complimented the students for coming up with plans to combat real life problems, while Cormac Donnelly of Irish Life Health says these were excellent ideas to help solve real life problems in our society.

All of The Big Idea projects will be available to view online on The Big Idea Exhibition at

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