YSI Win

The following article is taken from the school yearbook

Young Social Innovation Winners 2016

Young Social Innovators offers students the opportunity to use their creativity to respond to social issues. Putting students in the ‘driving seat’ they can contribute to a fairer, more caring and equal society
Our class and YSI guide Ms. Browne began our YSI journey in September when we identified a number of social issues that were important to us. We reflected on issues that we ‘would like to know more about’, that ‘annoyed’ us, that ‘were not fair’. Stepping back from our contributions, one word resonated throughout the different categories; ‘CANCER’.
Cancer ‘influences a considerable number of people in society’. One in three people in Ireland will develop cancer during their lifetime. In Ireland an average of 30,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed each year. However, we also found out that 30% of cancer related deaths are preventable through lifestyle changes such as early detection. With this in mind we decided that we wanted to tackle ‘Testicular Cancer’ and raise awareness about self-examination.
Testicular cancer is rare, but at the same time the most common cancer found in young men between 15 and 35 years of age and we, especially the boys in the class, felt we had little knowledge of it.
The class decided to undertake the task to raise awareness about Testicular Cancer by encouraging young men in our school and local community to MAN UP and check themselves regular and properly. Our campaign aim was to make self-examination the norm!
The Universal Declaration Human Right to ‘an adequate standard of living and medical help’ ensures the freedom to control one’s own health and body. It promotes access to timely, acceptable, and affordable health care of appropriate quality. We felt our project could be used to encourage men to take steps to respect and protect their own health through early detection. We also hoped it would encourage them to access help if needed. Girls too; as mothers, daughters, wives and partners must be educated.
To affect change we enlisted the help of the Irish Cancer Society, The Oncology Unit, Tullamore, local GPs and testicular cancer survivors to analysed information and examine statistics.
To get our message out we set up twitter (letstackleTC) and instagram (tackletesticularcancer) accounts. Check them out!! We spoke on the local radio station pc108fm.com and gave updated reports to local media. We posted our campaign posters ‘Let’s Tackle Testicular Cancer’ posters around our school resource areas to encourage young men to address the issue to self-examination and to openly discuss testicular cancer, its causes, the effects and preventions.
We enlisted the help of Community Clubs to encourage them to ‘tackle testicular cancer’. We produced stickers that would be placed in prominent positions in dressing rooms of sports clubs that young men would see before and after training sessions and matches. The stickers would be a simple step by step guide of how to check yourself properly and would encourage young men to MAN UP and self-examine once a month.
We held an Awareness Day ‘Keep your Eye on the Ball’ on March 16th. On this day all students in the school were invited to the school gym to get involved in a number of fun sports stations and information stands with ‘tackle’ activities, such as a soccer tackle, a rugby tackle, sumo wrestling costumes, etc. Incorporated into the stations was information stands that taught students about cancer, its causes, prevention methods and ways to deal with diagnosis. Leinster’s Leo the Lion and Portarlington Rugby Club were on hand during the day to help out. Thank you.
By the end of the school year we felt we had affected real change. The school community (boys, girls and staff) were talking about the importance of self-examination. We reduced the stigma attached to talking about testes and male self-examination. We reduced myths surrounding cancer and treatments. We promoted the survival rates for testicular cancer (95% with early detection). We opened up conversations about testicular cancer and self-examination on social media. We fostered a link between the school and local sports clubs to encourage young men to take pride in their health and well-being.
Testimony to our success has been our National Award. Qualifying initially at the Regional ‘Speak Outs’ in Kilkenny in March we were invited to ‘Showcase’ out project at the National Awards in City West on May 10th. Nervous but proud of the difference we had made this year we presented our project to a panel of judges and answered questions. From the 454 national YSI projects submitted this year we were chosen as winners of our challenge category ‘Making Our World Healthier – Physical Well Being’. Having our school name and project announced among the 6,000 students present in City West was not only a highlight of the year but a huge honour.

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