Kerry ETB
Killorglin Community College

Young Social Innovators Programme

Young Social Innovators Programme

This is our first year (2020/2021) taking part in the Young Social Innovators Programme and it’s been a roaring success, both within the school community and on the National Stage where Transition Years have been Shortlisted for the “Make Our World a Better Place for Young People Challenge”.

The TY’s project Connect and Express: Empathy in the School Community is focused on decreasing anxiety and increasing empathy by strengthening the bonds in the school community.

Why they chose to focus on this social issue in their own words (taken from their YSI Report).

“We returned to school and faced new challenges with COVID, we thought about the mental health impact. We chose to tackle our school community. With restrictions in place, we felt we could make the biggest difference here.

The main issues we highlighted were empathy, stress, anxiety and coping with emotions. When exploring these issues, empathy was at the core. We chose Empathy in the School Community. We later adapted this to Connect and Express, emphasising the importance of strengthening bonds, building empathy and having the confidence to express your true self in a safe and welcoming environment.”

They surveyed Junior Cycle students to gain an insight into the Mental Health Issues facing the young people in our school community.

From this they chose to focus on three big actions:

  • Positive Instagram,
  • Empathy Workshop
  • Chill Out Space.

They later added the Virtual Wellbeing Series as a response to the needs of the school community during Lockdown 3. To learn more about our Virtual Wellbeing Series go to the Wellbeing Section of our website.

Our Transition Year students discussing their actions in their own words (taken from their YSI Report).

“For the Instagram, we created @connectandexpresskcc. We posted inspirational quotes, funny memes and later, promoted our VWS using a mixture of Pixlr and Canva to create professional posts. We expanded our base with help from PR Team’s official @killorglincc helped, school posters with QR Codes and relevant hashtags.

For the Empathy Workshop, we decided to target 1st Years. We researched Empathy, engaging young people and managing emotions to inform us. The Jigsaw workshop helped massively with understanding mental health and mental wellbeing, which then helped us make our project more inclusive, meaningful and informative. The workshop is still in development, and we are eager to get back, finish and run it with our first years and their SPHE teacher.

For the Chill Out Space, a team liaised with the principal with regards to funds and the caretaker for supplies. We chose to paint different, colourful, positive scenes such as mountains, forests, mandalas, a vintage post box and a galaxy ceiling. We will also be adding facilities for music and a noticeboard for wellbeing.

With Lockdown 3, we had to put many of our actions on hold. Many of us were struggling to engage online, feeling tired and unmotivated. We felt that other students must be experiencing the same. We came up with the idea of a VWS to try to offer students something to engage with that would strengthen the bonds within class groups and with tutors, one of our core goals. It took place over two weeks with over 80 suggested activities, daily challenges and bonus events such as a whole school quiz and Zumba and mental health talks by Jigsaw and SHINE. These are all displayed on this Padlet: https://padlet.com/samantha_nagle/uwqf6mie8oqocif1. There was a lot of preparation involved. We had to come up with ideas, develop a social pack to promote them, arrange guest speakers, get agreement from teachers and the principal and get the students to buy into it by making it competitive. We also had to work with the principal to allocate funding for the prizes. During the project, we had to send out daily emails, encourage students to get involved, keep track of challenges, run Live Events.”

Their project has gathered media attention featuring in The Kerry’s Eye in February ahead of their Virtual Wellbeing Series and on Radio Kerry during the SpeakOut Tour. Check out our SpeakOut Tour Video here: Connect and Express Speakout Video

Langford Street, Killorglin, Co. Kerry.
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