Driven, socially conscious and eager for change – Nathalie Marquez Courtney meets a group of Young Social Innovators
Eureka: Competition winners (l-r) Clodagh Martin, Clare Bradley and Cliodhna McManus students of Eureka Secondary School, Kells
We wanted to learn about it in school, not online or in a doctor's surgery To know that what we had done could save a life was overwhelming
'It all started when a student came in, wondering about organ donation," explains Clare Bradley, a student at Eureka Secondary School in Kells who worked on this year's winning Young Social Innovators (YSI) project, Bring Organ Donation into Education.
The project aims to educate teenagers about the option of organ donation before they leave secondary school.
"A family friend had passed away and donated his organs. She was wondering what it was all about and didn't really understand it."
This created a lot of discussion in class, and the students discovered that just one classmate held an organ donor card.
"We realised that nobody really knew what this was about, nobody really understood it," Clare recalls, adding, "Neither did our teacher – we were all clueless!"
They decided that this would be the aim of their YSI project.
"If you inform people young, it will just become a done thing," Clare explains, citing a US study that showed that 90pc of people supported organ donation, but only 30pc held organ donor cards.
Her classmate Clodagh Martin found that lack of awareness was a huge issue.
"We conducted surveys, and when we asked young people the vast majority wanted to learn more about it, and wanted to learn about it in school instead of online or in a doctor's surgery."
The YSI group also conducted surveys among the general public to figure out why more people didn't carry organ donor cards.
"90pc of people ticked boxes saying that they didn't know enough about it, or hadn't gotten around to it," Clodagh explains.
By this point, however, the YSI group was thinking big.
The students have developed an idea for a teaching pack, one that would equip both teachers and students with all the necessary information about becoming an organ donor.
Earlier this year, they received €1,750 in funding from Young Social Innovator's Den where the students successfully pitched to a panel of 'Dragons' to develop their idea.
Health & Living