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Students Daragh Ó Laoire and Seamus Queally lending a hand to bookshop manager Paul Gathecha at the St. Vincent de Paul shop in Ennis where they were raising awareness of acute poverty while collecting funds for local charities. Photograph by Eugene McCafferty

Gaelcholáiste An Chláir win social innovator award by highlighting poverty through SVP shop initiative

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AN Ennis school was honoured at the Young Social Innovators of the Year Ireland (YSI) Awards for its positive impact in helping to create a more equal, fair and sustainable world.
Picking up the‘Fun-raising’ award, the team from Gaelcholáiste an Chláir, was recognised for its Poverty is 24/7’ project.
This award recognises teams that have brought awareness and raising funds in for a cause in an innovative way.
The Gaelcholáiste an Chláir students organised a fundraising event last December in which they took over the running of a local St Vincent de Paul Charity shop for 24 hours to help communicate a message that poverty is 24/7 while also raising funds for SVP.
The 16 members of the 4GC class at Gaelcholáiste an Chláir completely managed the Vincent’s shop on Parnell Street for 24 hours offering a Christmas shopping experience with a difference.
The students, with the support of teacher Martina McNamara, raised more than €5,500 in funds for the organisation.
Ms McNamara told us that the students were delighted to be able to do their bit to support the work of St Vincent de Paul in Clare.
She pointed to the effect Covid-19 has had on charities when it comes to raising funding, with the money raised by the students helping to support families and individuals in need ahead of the Christmas season.
The event followed the success of the previous year’s sleep-out by students in aid of St Vincent de Paul and other charities, with Covid-19 meaning they had to think outside the box when it came to ideas.
Ms McNamara also paid tribute to St Vincent de Paul, with James Dineen working with the school over the years on social awareness projects as well as supporting students with work experience and community involvement.
Now in its 20th year, YSI focuses on empowering Ireland’s young people to reimagine the world and the communities they live in, by developing and implementing ideas that help create a fairer, more equal and sustainable world.
There were 5,410 participants in this year’s programme with 354 innovation projects developed. Some 33 shortlisted projects competed for the headline and category awards.
YSI co-founder and CEO, Rachel Collier, said, “As YSI marks 20 years, I continue to be inspired by Ireland’s young people. Social innovation education is not confined within the walls of schools. It is about young people taking their place in their communities and society.
“While of course students were restricted by being out of school a lot of the time, they still managed to be creative, to collaborate with people in the local community and beyond and to make a significant difference to issues they care about.
“Every year, we see their remarkable empathy, sense of fairness and compassion as well as their deep passion to create a more caring, compassionate and sustainable world.
“I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to today’s winners, along with each and every student who took part in projects throughout the year.”
Addressing this year’s participants during the awards ceremony An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, said, “Young social innovators is 20 years old this year, it set out with a big vision that Ireland’s young people could be inspired, empowered and equipped to change the world for good.
“It has pioneered social innovation education not only here in Ireland but out across the world embracing schools in Zambia, Canada, Lebanon, and more recently Sweden.
“It continues to prove that through social innovation education we can empower young people to take your place in society and use your voices, insights, talents and learning to shape a better and fairer world.
“Our programme for Government commits to further expanding access to social innovation programmes to all post primary schools and I am pleased to see that the department of education and other departments are working closely with YSI to make this happen. Congratulations and well done to each and every one of you.”

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