‘A better world is in our hands.’ ‘Imagine a brighter world.’ ‘Make a difference now.’ It would have moved weary Dáil veterans to rediscover their idealism.
But this was no electoral campaign — these were the hopes and ambitions of the primary school children who made it through to the final of the Our World Irish Aid Awards sponsored by the Irish Examiner.
More than 17,000 pupils from 700 primary schools across the country took part in the 6th annual awards which challenge children to explore, illustrate and spread the word about the Millennium Development Goals and their importance for the world’s poor.
Eleven entries from schools in Clare, Kilkenny, Westmeath, Dublin, Louth, Monaghan and Donegal made it through to the finals with projects that tackled everything from fair trade to gender equality using every kind of media from posters, poetry and plays to research papers, DVDs, board games, original song and music and live presentations to family, friends and the wider community. The pupils behind the projects enjoyed a day away from classes at an awards ceremony in Dublin Castle where TV presenter Rob Ross was compere for the proceedings.
Minister for Overseas Development Peter Power had been scheduled to present the awards but election duties called him elsewhere and Irish Aid’s head of public information Vincent Herlihy stepped into the breach. He told the young audience they had achieved in their classrooms in a few short months what he and his colleagues had spent years of their working lives trying to do — explaining why it’s important to be concerned for people in development countries and spreading that understanding to the wider community. “You have already made a difference,” he told them.
All 11 schools were honoured for their work but the overall award went to Clonburris National School in Clondalkin, Dublin, for their project, A Bright Future Is In Our Hands, which was a very comprehensive study of the Millennium Development Goals and what people in Ireland can do to support them.
Teacher Paula Galvin’s fifth-class group used a mix of scrapbook pages, wall murals and their own musical composition to get their messages across in a project the judges said was packed with information, crystal clear in its messages and vibrantly presented.
All the shortlisted entries will be on display at the Irish Aid Information Centre in Dublin in an exhibition to be arranged in the coming months.