Green teens from Mountmellick Community School, Laois and a Dublin Peer Education Youth Group called the ‘Youthtop Gardeners’ were crowed joint Overall Senior Winners at ECO-UNESCO’s 14th annual Young Environmentalist Showcase and Awards Ceremony held in the Round Room of the Mansion House, on May 22nd. In attendance were over 600 young people, guest of honour President Michael D. Higgins, Deputy Lord Mayor of Dublin Councillor Clare Byrne and the youthful master of ceremonies, Stephen Byrne.
Both of the winning projects, that received their award from President Higgins, sought to tackle environmental issues head on. Communergy from Mountmellick Community School (who also won the Senior Climate Change award) ran several conservation workshops in primary and secondary schools as well as a third level college; encouraging people to conserve water and energy. ECO-UNESCO’s Peer Education Youth Group, the Youthtop Gardeners, (who also took home the Senior Waste award), impressed with their project which saw them develop a rooftop garden in Dublin city centre using upcycled materials to create green areas to grow their own fruit and vegetables. The group hope that their garden will encourage other city dwellers to use free space more efficiently to grow their own food and thus helping to reduce waste and mitigate climate change.
The 2013 Overall Junior Award went to SAYSWACC a community group from Whitefriars, Aungier Street, Dublin who impressed the judges by working with young people who live in flat complexes with no gardens or space for their rubbish. SAYSWACC worked with their peers and taught them about composting; thus helping to reduce waste in their local area. They also created a wormery using recycled items rescued from a skip in an effort to encourage more people in their community to get involved in their compost campaign.
These winners were just three of the 70 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 Bio-Zone in association with the Irish Environmental Network celebrating International Biodiversity Day, an interactive EU 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.”
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 for a full list of winners