Students from Co Limerick who campaigned to raise awareness among teenagers about the dangers of sexting have won the title of Young Social Innovators of the Year 2018.

The transition students from Ardscoil Mhuire in Corbally found that sexting is a “widespread problem” among students of all ages.

Using the project hashtag #keepitpg, they have been warning teenagers in a variety of ways about sexting — the sending of sexually explicit photographs or messages via mobile phone.

“We wanted to make teenagers aware that sexting is a very serious issue; that this teenage mistake may have serious, and lifelong, legal implications,” they said.

As part of their ‘Keep it PG’ campaign the students have started a petition to introduce sexting legislation that they describe as a “disturbing phenomenon”.

This year, almost 8,000 students presented social innovation projects on a range of social issues and around 800 attended the national award ceremony in Croke Park yesterday.

Rebecca Kent, Emma Young and Ava Barry from Mount Mercy College, Co. Cork with their project Talking Trash about pollution and waste management. Pic: Jason Clarke Photography
Rebecca Kent, Emma Young and Ava Barry from Mount Mercy College, Co. Cork with their project Talking Trash about pollution and waste management. Pic: Jason Clarke Photography

Students of Davis College in Mallow, Co Cork, were presented with a High Impact award for their successful ‘Forget Me Not’ campaign that led to the establishment of National Missing Persons Day in 2013.

The 24 students who were involved in that project were named as Young Social Innovators of the year in 2012.

The project, which was led by teachers Kathy Kilgannon and Siobhan Murray, developed as a result of the disappearance of British toddler Madeleine McCann. 

It soon gained both national and international recognition.

Joshua Fitzgerald Tighe, Aaron Cullen, Caitlin Murphy and Adam Doyle, Portmarnock Community School students with their project Bicycle of Life. Pic:Jason Clarke Photography
Joshua Fitzgerald Tighe, Aaron Cullen, Caitlin Murphy and Adam Doyle, Portmarnock Community School students with their project Bicycle of Life. Pic: Jason Clarke Photography

The minister of state for Equality, Immigration, and Integration, David Stanton, who presented the award, invited the students to make a presentation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality.

Mr Stanton said the students, who have left school and are now going to college, have left a “legacy” behind them that is not forgotten.

“They are still being rewarded for the tremendous work,” he said.

Chief executive and co-founder of Young Social Innovators, Rachel Collier, said the programme allows young people to take on issues that matter to them.

“We are proud to capture their passion and to provide them with a platform on which to present their ideas and to be heard,” she said.

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