My day started at a devastating 4.20am on a dark, cold morning.
I exerted all available will power in order to haul myself out of bed and proceeded to muster up the necessary motivation walk down to McDonalds (my designated pick up point).
A while later I found myself sitting uncomfortably on a small bus reminiscent of prison transport. With my knees squished against the seat in front of me, my back descended into a deeper level of suffering. I was sat next to Taran as we engaged in pointless conversation. When at last we arrived at the hosting hotel there was a vicious stampede of students and teachers alike that bounded off the bus as one ravening body.
After receiving our wristbands we entered into a jungle of towering inflatable slides, bouncy castles quite akin to a rich 7 year olds birthday party.
While we wandered around listening to the disembodied booming of massive speakers, sizing up the competition, a daunting sense of disillusionment began to take hold.
Hours later, we found ourselves waiting, clumped together in the stuffy, dark, and sombre auditorium, as the compere introduced the first project.
A feeling of mild panic hit us as we heard our project’s name being called up, and simultaneously the nerves began to kick in, as we waited together side by side to the right of the stage watching all the other fabulous schools and professional presentations wondering if ours would fully convey our passion. However, to our welcome amazement confidence began to build as we put on our masks and heard our rap playing on the speakers. The three minutes rushed by and we found ourselves looking down at the four judges who proceeded to ask us questions (an eventuality we have not been prepared for!), Saoirse answered the first question and then we teamed up and took turns in answering the rest, finally with a wave of relief we returned to our seats and watched the rest of the presentations serenely pan out in front of us.
I think I speak for all of when I say it was a defining and infinitely bonding moment, for all of us, standing on the stage united against such a colossal issue as bullying.
And thus began the torturous, nail biting, hopeless, hours of anticipation.
We wandered around the huge grounds all thinking the same thing; “WHO WON!
At long last ;
4pm and all 4000 students gathered into an enormous auditorium for the finite award ceremony. We sat cautiously at the back never conceiving of the events about to take place. When at last the crowds had settled, master of ceremonies, Mary Kennedy came to the stage and announced the various winners.
When it came to our category: (“Mental Health”) an almost audible unanimous deep breath was sucked in. We waited with baited breath for what seemed like an eternity (probably 3 minutes)- hoping but never really believing that our centre would be called.
“And now the winning project in promoting and being an innovative voice in mental health..” called out Gerry Raleigh, the presenter of the award..”..This Centre has combatted cyber bullying in so many ways including charity work and an anti bullying week and a Bully Box…”
I heard Mary Reardon omit an almighty scream of joy as we all jumped to our feet hugging and shouting in disbelief. When we had composed ourselves we began our way to the stage to collect the beautiful solid glass trophy. Sadly there was no time for victory speeches so we proceeded to stage left for photographs.
I think it took a while for it to sink in but the day could not have gone better! We see our YSI award as a personal and social victory over bullying and discrimination!
We’re continuing to combat bullying in and outside of Youthreach as well as constantly striving to improve the image of Youthreach on the whole!
An enormous thank you to everyone at Young Social Innovators for their support and the fabulous opportunity we would never have received otherwise.
And finally a special mention for someone who we literally would not be where we are had it not been for their continuing support! Our YSI guide and mentor, Jaki Mitchell!!
By Fiachna O Brien
Still basking in the limelight!
On the back of our win, YSI wanted to interview the group involved in the project and specifically Jaki Mitchell- our YSI teacher about the positive effects of the project, why we picked our topic and how the students and center have benefited as a whole. Check out our; “Fame” for our Win in 2013
Here is our image in a pdf..enjoy ysi in images