On 7th May the Transition Year YSI Team from St. Leos College, travelled to The City West Hotel, Conference and Event Centre to present their project “You are the Author of your own Life” at the Annual Showcase of Young Social Innovators 2014. The project was selected as one of sixty projects out of four hundred nationwide to participate in the presentations at the Showcase.
The St. Leo’s YSI team decided that their project aim is to promote positive mental health and help prevent suicide. The girls have linked with a range of organisations and personnel who have facilitated the deepening of their understanding of mental health and who have supported them in taking on what they consider to be necessary responses to promoting positive mental health and preventing suicide. Some of the workshops they organised and participated in were facilitated by personnel from MABS, AWARE, Headstrong, County Carlow Children’s and Young People’s Services Committee and Mental Health Ireland. Resulting from a deeper knowledge of mental health and mental health issues the team set out to undertake a series of responses and actions which they believe can make a difference in their school and local community.
Within the school community they organised a fun ceili in conjunction with the Irish department for first year students. All money raised from this event and the “Speak Irish for a Day “events, a total of 500 euro, was presented to Orlaith Foley of Headstrong, There is an ongoing poster campaign which involves the creation and display of uplifting posters with positive quotes and “ 5 A- Day for your Mental Health”. For Valentine’s Day members of the team made and sold “heart badges” for the Donal Walsh # Live Life Foundation.
St. Leo’s was an anchor school in the Cycle Against Suicide and many members of the YSI team participated in the organising and hosting of the event and in the cycle itself. As part of this event members of the team linked with Carlow Regional Youth Services and put together a display stand on Mental Health which was included in the visiting organisations display area on the day of the cycle.
A bookmark with the contact details of some of the local and national support organisations working in the area of mental health and suicide prevention has been designed by the team and professionally printed. They will be distributed among the school community.
One of the major concerns of the project team was to make improvements along the Barrow Track. They enlisted the support of Anne Aherne, Chairperson of St. Leo’s Parents Council and local councillor. She has enabled the team to participate in a series of meetings with the Town Clerk and personnel from Carlow County Council. As an advocate for the team and the project she has ensured the council’s commitment to a plan of action which includes the cutting of the grass and the sowing of wild flowers, the painting and repair of benches among other tasks, along a particular area of the Barrow Track. The team are deeply appreciative of her support and the support of the council in seeing their ideas come to fruition. A drama which focuses on “The Barrow Track Project” has been created and performed by the team at the YSI Speak Out in Athlone and at the Annual Showcase. It was highly commended by the YSI panels at both events.
“A semicolon is used when an author could have ended a sentence but chose not to. You are the author of your own life and the story is yours.” The YSI team are passionately driven to communicate this message to all in our community.
The girls showcased their “Barrow Track Project” at this year’s Speak out. They created a drama showing the barrier from negative thoughts and feeling and happiness upheld by the derelict area by the riverside. The girls showed through this drama that with some help, this barrier can be broken. The YSI team left their teachers and members of the panel in tears. They got very positive feedback and recently participated in the National Annual YSI Finals on the 7th May where there work was highly commended. At the awards ceremony a special presentation was made to teacher M/s Sheila Coady for her contribution to YSI since its foundation. Sheila and St. Leo’s were the first winners of the National YSI competition.