A GROUP of girls from Our Lady's College Greenhills have scooped the prestigious Young Social Innovators award.
Young Social Innovators is a competition that has been held in Ireland every year since 2001.
It is a competition where Transition Year students get together to showcase their projects on how they made a difference in their community.
We began our project hoping to raise awareness about the deaf community.
We held a sponsored silence for Irish Deaf Kids, a charity founded by Caroline Carswell that helps deaf children and their families. Caroline herself is profoundly deaf and she was a great help to us throughout the project.
We e-mailed her regularly and she gave us advice and passed on any ideas she had, which would be of benefit to our project. We raised €400. We surveyed students in our school, and in the other local secondary schools in Drogheda to find out what people's attitudes were like towards deaf people.
The majority of people said that deaf people should be treated fairly and as equals. We had a guest speaker in to talk to our class. A 5th Year student in Manor House in Dublin, Rebecca herself was born deaf and is 1 of the 90% of deaf people to attend mainstream education.
She is the only deaf student in her school. She has a cochlea implant which allows her to hear, but she also lip reads.
Our class set up an online petition for improved audiology screening for newborn babies. This would help for the early detection of deafness, as at the moment, the average age of detection is two years old. Sign the petition at www.petitiononline.ie . We set up a Facebook causes page 'Have You Heard'.
We set up a notice board in the main hall of the school to provide information on the deaf and to raise awareness.
Some girls learned the sign language for John Lennon's' song 'Imagine' - albeit the Glee version – and performed it for the YSI qualifier in the TLT, in Drogheda.
We plan on continuing our project into the summer as we have produced booklets about how to communicate with a deaf person. We plan on distributing these to students in the local schools in Drogheda.
We plan on having a subtitling marathon, in which we subtitle as many YouTube videos aspossible, so the videos will be more accessible to deaf people worldwide. We urge anyone who has a YouTube account to join in and subtitle some videos. We also hope to help our guest speaker with an online petition of her own, which is to get emergency text services for the deaf.
At the YSI Showcase, we performed our presentation and were asked some quick questions by the judges. At the end of the day, three girls were called back to another questioning session which would determine whether our project would win the award. At the awards ceremony, to our great delight, our project took first place in its category: To make the world more inclusive and poverty free.
Our class thoroughly enjoyed the day as there was lots to do and see. On behalf of the Drama Room, I would like to thank our YSI teacher Ms Lindsey Gallagher, who without her help and support this project would not have been possible. I would like to thank Mrs Mulvihill, our principal, and all the teachers in school who supported this project. Ms Caroline Carswell, who was there to lend a hand at every opportunity, thanks a million!