The Echo speaks to students across Cork who have been speaking out about social issues that matter most to them as part of the Young Social Innovators (YSI) Speak Out Week.
Students at Scoil Muire gan Smál, in Blarney, chose a project to alleviate substance use and abuse among younger people.
Fourth-year students and group representatives, Agata Fraczek, Alexandra Nyzovets, and Cillian McCarthy, have been working on a project about substance abuse and addiction, to educate the younger generation, so as to alleviate the problem and prevent them from taking drugs and drinking alcohol.
Agata said that their age group is “extremely exposed” to drug and alcohol abuse.
“It’s very common for people our age to go out and do drugs and alcohol and it’s a problem that nobody really speaks about, because addiction is normalised, so we wanted to raise our voices and try to solve it before it’s too late,” Agata said.
“We found that it doesn’t really matter, necessarily, what your background is or what kind of family you come from and what experiences you’ve been through: People who are addicted to substances can come from any household or any background.”
Alexandra said that there are many benefits to the YSI project: “It gives young students, like us, a chance to tackle the important social issues in our society.”
“It gives teenagers a voice to express themselves and to create a change in our world, no matter how big or small, and we have an opportunity to educate other students and years in our school to understand problems and how to tackle them in our society,” Alexandra said.
She said that they were fortunate to have “an amazing group”, who, with the help of their teacher, Michelle Corcoran, stayed in contact about the project throughout lockdown, which was “pretty tough”, but that, as a group, they had each other.
Cillian said that although Speak Out Week was held virtually this year, they still benefitted from the Speak Out virtual tour platform, which features all participating students’ videos telling the story of their projects.
“For Speak Out Week, in our class we all watched loads of other schools speak out and I was very impressed with all of them and learned loads of different topics on what other schools are doing,” he said.