Students champion missing persons’ day

A group of Cork students who have been campaigning to establish a national day for missing people were last night named as Young Social Innovators of the year 2012.

The 24 students from Davis College, Mallow, Co Cork, will take their project, Forget Me Not, a step further today when they meet Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, and urge him to establish a national missing persons’ day.

One of the students involved in the project, transition year student Josie McGrath, 16, said they had worked hard over the past year in building on a project on missing persons begun by another group in the school who were runners-up in last year’s showcase event.

In March, the students were invited to address a meeting of the Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality in Leinster House.

Ms McGrath told the committee how students had raised funds for organisations who support the family members of missing persons with the sale of the school’s Forget Me Not calendar.

Some of the funds were used to help fund the search for a missing teenager in Galway last January. His remains were later recovered.

The group are hoping Mr Shatter will agree to holding a national missing persons’ day in October every year. They will also present him with a petition with 12,000 signatures supporting the special day.

In a bid to get their message across, the group had a bus shelter advertisement near the Dáil last April so Taoiseach Enda Kenny and other members of the Oireachtas, were aware of their campaign.

The group also met President Michael D Higgins in March and asked him to plant an oak tree in the garden of Áras an Uachtaráin for the families of missing people.

“We are hoping that the families of missing people will take over from us when we have got what they always wanted — a special day for their loved ones,” said Josie.

The silver award was won by students from Mercy Secondary School, Mounthawk, Tralee, Co Kerry, for their project on water fluoridation — Would You Pay for Poison.

The students felt the issue was worth highlighting at this time when a national debate on water charges is raging.

Their project resulted in their school principal installing a water filter so all tap water is fluoride free.

More than 5,000 students took part in this year’s programme and more than 3,500 attended the annual showcase of Young Social Innovators at Citywest Hotel in Saggart, Co Dublin.

President Higgins, who reviewed the social innovation projects, said the students were able to put their stamp on the kind of Ireland they wanted, a place where everyone was treated with respect.

Co-founder and chair-person of Young Social Innovators, Sr Stanislaus Kennedy, said young people needed to have more say in their learning and be given opportunities to engage and really contribute to what is going on around them in their communities.

The winners

* Overall Young Social Innovator of the Year 2012: Forget Me Not, Davis College, Summerhill, Mallow, Co Cork.

* Silver Award: Would You Pay for Poison? Mercy Secondary School, Mounthawk, Tralee, Co. Kerry.

* Joint Bronze Award: Do You Want Braille With That? Cashel Community School, Cashel, Co Tipperary.

* Joint Bronze Award: Be a Mate, Donate, St Joseph’s Secondary School, Rochfortbridge, Co Westmeath.

OTHER WINNERS

* Making Our World Healthier — Physical: M.O.V.E. — Mind Our Vitality Every Day, St Anne’s Secondary School, Convent of Mercy, Rosanna Road, Tipperary town.

* Making Our Community Better: A Taste of Tipp, the Ursuline Secondary School, Thurles, Co Tipperary.

* Making Our World Greener: Green Hand (A Green Future for the Youth of Ireland), St Anne’s Secondary School, Convent of Mercy, Rosanna Road, Tipperary town.

* YSI Step Up Challenge: Picture Perfect, Mercy Secondary School, Mounthawk, Tralee, Co Kerry.

* Joint Winners — YSI Fundraising Challenge: Santa’s Grotto, Ballincollig Community School, Ballincollig, Co Cork.


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