Our objective was to do a project on a social issue. We had to write a 3000 word report and create a new innovation. This all had to be done by the end of February 2015 and we started in September 2014. We knew that we had to present the project on stage in a 2 minute speak out. As part of the project we had to do a survey of people’s opinions and we also had to do a fundraiser.
For the project we got together and we discussed what a social issue was. We had a vote as a team and the topic that got the most votes was depression and suicide in young people. We choose this topic because we could identify with the issue as all of us know at least one person that suffered from depression at some point in their lives. The topic then evolved to focus more on mental health because as we progressed with our research that seemed to be a more important and over-all issue.
First of all we started to research information on the issue to learn more about it. As we found out more and more we started to print out the information and we started setting up a notice board in the hallway in our centre which we also decorated. The idea was that people visiting the centre and we the people attending Youthreach could inform themselves on the issue we were working on. To get the most information we could that was also accurate we didn’t only refer to internet research, we also invited speakers in and visited Jigsaw in Galway city.
We were visited by Cyril Hyland from Let’s Get Talking who is a Psychoanalyst and he talked to us about self-image, peer pressure and bullying. Liam O Loughlin came in a few times from the Western Region Drugs Task Force to talk to us about addiction and helped us identify ways of getting a natural buzz. After meeting him we came up with the idea of the natural buzz week. At last, we visited Jigsaw for an information session on the support they offer to young people.
After collecting that much information we decided that it would be a good idea to set up a survey that we could send out to other educational centres in order to find out if stress and depression is common in young people and if those people that suffer from them would rather to get professional help or they would rather to have a friend to stick with them through the hard times. Some of the answers we got surprised us as nearly half the people we surveyed said they wouldn’t get help if they were feeling depressed, which then brought out the thought in us that maybe there is a flaw in the help offered by organisations such as Jigsaw or maybe people are just afraid to admit to their problem which they don’t have control over.
We designed Christmas Cards in art which we then sold to raise money for Console Galway and we baked cookies which were then given to mothers and children in the Waterside House. We also thought that it would be a good idea to design a relaxation room in the centre so people could go there and relax if they felt down or just need to get away for a few minutes. There are bean bags in the room so it’s comfortable to sit and we also made curtains and everyone put their name on them.
We then decided to make a rap reflecting on mental health. I was one of the people involved in that. I was also the ideas person for the video that went with the rap. I was involved in the activities during the buzz week which we came up with to keep active. Some of the activities involved walking and ice-skating. We based our natural buzz week on five main topics witch were Connecting, Giving, Exercising, Learning and Relaxing.
Team members were able to express their ideas and opinions openly and were respected by everybody. An example of our ideas and opinions would have been when we made Christmas cards everybody had a go at making a card and then 12 were chosen that everybody voted on. We used those cards to raise money for Console Galway as part of giving.
In terms of putting the presentation together and making the rap all needed everyone’s opinions and ideas immensely because everybody had their own ideas and we found a way to use every body’s ideas throughout these two projects.
We then wanted to come up with two characters for a leaflet we were to create representing our five main topics. Meiread and Meghan came up with a duck and a tiger. The duck was to represent a super hero that helps us out when we are in need and the tiger represented us as students. It took a lot of time and effort constantly changing the characters from the way they looked and dressed to even what animal they would be! They also made them into mascots by buying teddies and dressing them up exactly how they had drawn them and then they would be presented on the stage with our project. Doing this project helped us understand the benefit of team work and that working together is much easier than working alone. It allows everybody to use their skills and have a contribution to the project.
The relaxation room was another idea we had that relied on everyone because we had a choice of what we all wanted, we got the ideas from our mood board to help us decide on the colours and what was to be placed in the room for our own comfort. This was another way we got everyone’s input and helped everyone agree. Everyone respected one another’s opinion and we could all speak openly about our ideas without feeling uncomfortable or embarrassed.
Towards or deadline everyone contributed bit by bit to typing up the report.
The final part of this project was to present it on stage for which we went to Castlebar. The whole team went on stage wearing masks, we had posters and a few people read lines. A few weeks later we’ve been notified that we were selected to take part in the finals in Dublin City West. Nine people went to that presentation and we were chosen as one of the three groups to show our presentation to the sponsors of YSI. We found out after two days that we won our category of mental health.
We had to follow a few deadlines while doing the project, such as making and selling the cards before Christmas, finishing the rap before the camera crew came in to make the video, typing up the report before the deadline, and getting everything prepared for the presentation in Castlebar. We kept our blog up to date and had an on-going evaluation of the project.