TY Present their Little Library at YSI Awards

There was much excitement among the pupils in Finn Valley College’s Transition Year having made it through to the final stages to compete for the annual Young Social Innovators Senior Programme Award.  Young Social Innovators is a non-profit organisation that empowers young people to use their talents, insights, passion and creativity to come up with innovative solutions to social challenges.

The group’s project, led by Evan Cassidy & Gertrude Mukunge, was called TY Little Library & Reaching Out. It was shortlisted for the final award within the Aviva Strong & Caring Communities challenge. The group battled through the regional stages in Sligo at the end of March at a Speak Out Event, where the team had to give a two minute presentation on their project.  They were delighted that their hard work had been rewarded especially as the competition was particularly tough. What made it all the more special was that this is the first year that Finn Valley College has had a TY group; naturally, their Co-Ordinator Ms Tina Garry was delighted, “I am so proud of the work done by our TY pupils, their enthusiasm has been infectious and they have collaborated so well on their library project showing thoughtfulness and kindness. They are a credit to the school and their families.”

Motivated by a lack of bookshops in their local community, coupled with recognising the importance reading has on our wellbeing and mental health, the group decided to design and construct a Little Library with the support of their Woodwork teacher, Mr James Rodgers. Through research, they found a 2009 study conducted by University of Sussex, showing that reading can reduce stress by up to 68% and the group felt compelled to act. Furthermore, given that the overarching theme of TY in the school this year is Evergreen, the group were keen that their project was sustainable and they constructed their library from sustainable materials, accepting donations of books from the school and wider community to re-circulate them.

And so the little library was born…A little library is essentially a small wooden box with shelves through which people can borrow and exchange books for free. Anyone can take a book from the little library and return it, solving our problem of accessing books in Stranorlar. Take a book or leave a book – the little library will soon be available for use outside of the school gates.

The team was in the running to win their category, and the overall Young Social Innovators of the Year Gold, Silver or Bronze Awards at this year’s event. A five-strong team of pupils presented a series of pitches to a panel of judges and faced a gruelling Q&A session on Tuesday 2nd May, in Croke Park, Dublin. 

All credit to Evan, Gertrude, Sixtus, Ryan & Ava who, despite a wonderful performance were not awarded a prize but who represented the FVC crest with pride and enthusiasm.

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