Derryschools take part in Young Social Innovators projects
Three schools from the North West took part in a Social Innovators project aimed at making life better for people within their schools/communities. Each school had to identify a social issue and carry out a research task into the problem and then devise a set of actions to help solve it. Each school had to submit a 4000 word report on their issue and then go to Belfast City Hall last Wednesday where they took part in a regional ‘Speak Out’ on the issue. Below is a summary of the projects that the schools were involved in.
In November a sub-committee of Foyle College’s middle school council had the opportunity to attend a Young Social Innovators event hosted at the City Hotel, Derry. During this event the pupils were able to meet with other schools to identifying social issues. Each school was asked to choose a social issue that they felt passionately about and create a poster on the topic. The issue Foyle decided to consider was that of mental health. In particular, they focused on the mental health of adolescents because they felt that sometimes people overlook the issues that young people may face in their lives at home and at school.
To address this issue, the pupils actively researched areas of mental health such as; stress, self harm, depression, eating disorders and suicide. They contacted and worked alongside mental health charities such as ZEST, AWARE and Newlife Counselling. Futhermore, they interviewed the headmaster, pastoral VP, Health Education Coordinator and the school counselor to find out a little more about the issue in our school. Additionally, some pupils attended the ‘Cycle Against Suicide’ campaign in Dublin and Foyle College will be the launch school for its Derry leg in May as it makes its way around Ireland.
In school the pupils took action by organising a Mental Health awareness week where they put together events running throughout each school day. For example, Mental Health groups such as AWARE, ZEST and Newlife counseling ran workshops for pupils. All the assemblies for the week had a focus on an element of mental health and were delivered by the middle school council and outside agencies/charities.
To show how physical health is intrinsically linked to mental health, the pupils promoted healthy lifestyles by organising fun activities such as Zumba dance, boxing fit, circuits and INSANITY workouts throughout the week allowing pupils to experience a range of different and yet enjoyable activities. Furthermore, they organized their own ‘Cycle against Suicide’ event in school whereby they had pupils and staff cycling on Spin bikes throughout all of Friday last week. We also promoted healthy eating by bringing in an expert on nutrition to speak about issues such as eating disorders.
In doing the pupils aimed to have broken through the stigma of mental health in Foyle College allowing all their fellow pupils and friends to continue reaching their full potential.
St Mary’s College
The Saint Mary’s chose underage drinking as our topic of interest, mainly due to the current trend in ‘nek nominations’. We designed an advertising campaign to highlight the dangers and consequences of underage drinking with the help of Drinkthink and Misprint. Using staged photographs of the pupils we created a Billboard and posters. The billboard will be launched at the free Derry corner from Monday 7th April at 1pm and the posters are currently displayed at the bus shelters in Foyle street. We also created an awareness video, involving real life stories that we collected from people we know who suffered the consequences of underage drinking. This has been uploaded onto youtube. We hope that our campaign will make teenagers think twice about giving into peer pressure and drinking alcohol.
St Celcilias College
Our project focussed on finding ways to help young people, girls in particular, be more positive about themselves. After researching some issues around self esteem and self image and talking to lots of different people, we decided to take a positive and constructive approach. Firstly we designed an app that would offer a range of support to young girls who doubt themselves. For example you could access your favourite happy songs, positive quotes or even jokes. Our app is called ‘Team Teen- we’re on your side’. We are hoping to find someone to help us build the app. Secondly we decided we could lead by example and we are planning a ‘Positive Week’ later in the year to showcase lots of different ways you can brighten your day and see yourself more positively. For example we will have music around the school, positive signs on mirrors and will hold a series of assemblies to promote various ways you can be positive.