Thousands of young people will gather in Dublin this weekend to exhibit a range of projects aimed at improving their local communities.
The Aldi Foróige Youth Citizenship Awards take place in the National Indoor Arena in Dublin 15, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the programme, which was first run by Foróige in 1969.
More than 220 groups of 10 to 18-year-olds, representing all 26 counties, will exhibit their social action projects, with 2,500 young people and volunteers attending, with some winning silver and gold awards.
Among the projects that will be exhibited this weekend is one by Ballineen/Enniskeane Foróige Club, Young Engineers Citizenship Project - a sensor that can inform local waste companies that the municipal recycling bins are nearly full and need to be emptied.
Under the guidance of leaders Rebeccah O’Dwyer and STEAM Advocate Gráinne Bagnall, they called their project 'Recycle Responder’.
Foróige members Hannah Hegarty and Grace O’Donovan explained that they felt a need to tidy up and raise awareness and developed the idea of a sensor to alert bin collectors when the bins are three-quarters full.
Both said the idea could be used elsewhere. The plan is still in development and according to Gráinne the group has put a huge amount of time and effort into it, including meeting with professional engineers.
In Midleton the local Foróige took on an animal theme by adopting two donkeys. Sam Donellan, 12, said the group decided a soccer tournament would be the best way to gather the funds.
“It was similar a blitz,” he said.
We raised €100, €50 per donkey for two years. We had the money and had a vote and decided on those two, Bella and Lorcan.
The donkeys are now in safe hands and 15 or so members of the club are due in Dublin for the ceremony.
Sam said of his local Foróige: “It feels good to be doing something for our community.”
As for other projects in the spotlight, members of Shanagarry Foróige Club focussed on the increasing amount of litter on their local beach. They contacted Clean Coasts Ballynamona and organised for a collection point for the rubbish, as well as the use of equipment such as litter pickers and bags to help in the cleanup.
The Whitechurch Foróige Club aimed to create a sensory garden in their community. To raise funds the group organised an Interclub disco, a sell-out variety show and a cake sale, raising a total of €6,950 for the garden.
Kanturk Foróige held a sponsored stay awake and a non-uniform day to raise awareness of mental health services amongst young people and to fundraise for Pieta House. The group’s tagline is ‘it’s ok not to be ok’ and they raised €950 to support mental health services in their area.
Coachford Foróige designed a utility belt with emergency call button and padding in the event of falls to help the elderly in emergencies, while Muintir Bhaire Foróige Club, Co. Cork devised a campaign with the tagline ‘Did you know, your Eircode could save your life?’
Elsewhere the Monday Boy's Group, Togher Youth Development Project launched an initiative to make bespoke greeting cards featuring the local area to fundraise for charity, based on photos they took themselves.