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Green teens from St. Louis Community School Kiltimagh were crowned the Overall Senior Winners at ECO-UNESCO’s 15th annual Young Environmentalist Showcase and Awards Ceremony held in the Round Room of the Mansion House today. In attendance were over 600 young people, Mr. Han Qunli, Director of the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences and the Secretary of the Man and the Biosphere Programme, Minster for Children and Youth Affairs Charlie Flanagan, Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn and the master of ceremonies, Aidan Power.

The winning project ‘Yes We Can’ scooped a total of three prizes at the event including the Senior Waste Award and Alupro Ireland’s ECO-Alu Award. Their winning eco-action project focused on reducing the amount of aluminium going into landfills. The production of aluminium cans is hugely damaging to the environment and through their project they helped save energy, protect natural resources and habitats, lowered CO2 emissions and reduced global warming and climate change. On the ground, the Kiiltimagh group set up a recycling centre for aluminium cans in their school and publicised it in the local community. They set themselves a target for the school year to recycle 1000kg of cans. Three months into their campaign in 2013, they had already collected over 500kg of aluminium cans for recycling and with only a week or so to go, are well on track towards achieving their target of 1000kg for the school year. The group also established a website providing all the information required to assist other schools and communities to set up recycling centres and reduce the amount of waste aluminium.

The2014 Overall Junior Award went to St. Colm’s High School from Draperstown in Derry. They won both the Overall Junior, and Junior Biodiversity category with their project, ‘Susan’s Trail’. High on this group’s agenda was the conservation of native species and the promotion of endangered species such as the Irish Whitebeam, swifts and tree sparrows. St. Colm’s worked alongside a number of local groups in the Draperstown area to establish a biodiversity trail and researched and collated information for signage on the various habitats and species found along the trail itself, helping to promote the protection of both native and endangered species.

St. Ibar’s National School Co. Wexford and Scoil na nÓg, Co. Cork were joint winners of the Super Junior Category. 

These winners were just two of the 75 lucky groups who were selected for the finals from almost 4,000 young people throughout the Republic and Northern Ireland at regional ‘‘Dragons’ Den’’ style ECO-Dens in March.

Preceding the official awards ceremony, the public were invited to a colourful exhibition where the Young Environmentalists showcased their ECO-Action project. The ECO-UNESCO team also provided exciting green-themed activities including creative recycling workshops, a water and sustainability zone, a biodiversity zone and a talent zone where visitors were entertained by quality youth performances from the finalists.

Commenting on Ireland’s largest youth environmental showcase, Elaine Nevin, National Director of ECO-UENSCO commented; “Today was a truly inspiring event. The level of dedication, innovation and environmental awareness demonstrated by these young people throughout this year’s Young Environmentalist Awards was phenomenal. I would like to congratulate not only our very deserving winners, but everybody who took part in the initiative and who through their environmental action projects made their homes, schools and communities a greener place to live, work and study. We were delighted to have Mr. Han of UNESCO at today’s event. The actions of these young people can be replicated anywhere in the world to help protect and conserve our environment and we hope that UNESCO clubs worldwide will strive to do their bit for the environment and follow in the footsteps of their Irish counterparts.”

The annual awards programme run by ECO-UNESCO, Ireland’s environmental education and youth organisation, recognises and rewards young people that carry out local environmental action projects. The programme has provided thousands of young people, aged 10 -18, an opportunity to take action and raise awareness in their own community on issues that matter the most to them.

Click here to view the full list of winners.