S.T.O.P Campaign Wins Two Awards at YSI Showcase
‘If you believe in it, act on it‘ – YSI motto.
On Wednesday 6th May, twenty-four dedicated Young Social Innovator (YSI) students along with their teacher Ms. Donna Lyons from St. Mary’s Secondary School, Mallow, travelled to the annual YSI Showcase and Awards Ceremony at City West, Dublin, to present their S.T.O.P (Stop Trafficking of People) campaign.
The project aims to increase awareness about anti-human trafficking and to raise funds for victims of human trafficking. ‘Human trafficking is a global problem. It is the trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labour or for the extraction of organs or tissues’, explained Marie Carey, YSI student.
Firstly, the students were required to take to a stage to creatively present their project to the YSI judges. The girls were happy with their performance yet also a little apprehensive as all of the competing presentations were of a high standard. Laura Willis, YSI student, noted, ‘We were really happy with how we presented our project on stage, we gave it 100% and we felt there was nothing more we could have done. All of the teams here today put in a great effort. The standard was very high.’
Following the presentation, two of the S.T.O.P students, Cáit O’Mahony and Laura Willis, were asked by the YSI judges to speak about the project live on Spin South West with Martin Guilfoyle. The girls were very professional during the interview. They spoke eloquently about their project, in particular, the Colour Run in October and the ongoing Blue Heart campaign.
Next up, the S.T.O.P students moved to the main arena, with 5000 capacity, for the awards ceremony. The atmosphere was electric, with some comparing the buzz to that of an All-Ireland hurling final. RTÉ Nationwide presenter, Mary Kennedy, was the MC for the ceremony.
The S.T.O.P campaign won the first award of the day, the Social Media Award. ‘We never expected that we would win it and when our name was called out we were all in shock’, said Laura Willis. Later, to great excitement, the S.T.O.P campaign picked up a second award, the Step-Up Challenge Award. This category awards the best national YSI project that has continued for more than one year. The S.T.O.P campaign was originally piloted by the YSI transition year students of 2013/14. This award was presented by Irish musician, Ryan Sheridan. The St. Mary’s students were over-the-moon to win not one, but two awards.
Great credit goes to their teacher and YSI guide Donna Lyons, the girls of last year’s group, whose efforts they built on, all those who contributed to the social media aspect of the project, and everyone in the Mallow community for supporting the S.T.O.P project over the last two years.