Young Social Innovators – Believing in the Power of Youth

Young Social Innovators

At Young Social Innovators (YSI) we believe in the power of youth!

We know that young people have great ideas. We know that they have the talents, passion and energy to change the world for good. And we know that when presented with that challenge – they respond!

We have been watching young people do amazing things to bring about positive change in Ireland for the past 14 years through the YSI ACTION Programme. They have been looking at their communities and asking themselves – how can we make things better? What is important to us and those around us? Who can we help and how can we do it? But more than just asking the questions – they have been putting their ideas into ACTION! So far, around 53,000 teenagers in Ireland have become young social innovators through the ACTION Programme.

They have created youth cafés, play parks and buddy programmes for the young and the old. They have implemented regional and national awareness campaigns on issues such as mental health, road, farm and water safety, the fluoridisation of water, the dangers of concussion in sport and Ireland’s missing people. They have set up enterprises in areas such as water conservation and created ongoing attention grabbing events such as an annual film festival for young people around the issue of mental health. They have created educational resource packs on issues ranging from organ donation to bullying. They have written songs, made films, created animations, built websites and much more besides. They have all taken ACTION!

At Young Social Innovators, we challenge young people (aged 15- 18years) to identify an issue that is important to them. It can be something related to their school or youth group, their local community or a national or even international issue. We ask them not only to come up with a great idea to make a positive difference but to actually put their ideas into practice and then tell us what happened.

The opportunities that young people get through Young Social Innovators are like no others. Groups have presented to local councils, to government committees and have even lobbied the Taoiseach and the President directly. They have attended and spoke at conferences, on radio, and television. Teams have won national and international awards for their work. Thousands of innovators from all over Ireland get together at YSI events and they all come together for one huge celebration in Dublin in May each year.

But being a young social innovator is more than attending great events and winning awards. It is being empowered to realise that each of us can change our world for the better. These changes don’t have to be big but if we all thought like social innovators then social problems would simply become challenges to be solved. And who would have the skills to solve such challenges? Ireland’s young social innovators of course!

Jason and his YSI team mates from The Donahies Community School in Dublin focussed on the issue of cyberbullying for their ACTION project. Their buddy system linking younger students in the school with older buddies was a huge success.

bell7Eleanor, Sarah and Emma and their team members from St Joseph’s College in Lucan decided that they were going to highlight water safety through their project following the tragic death of a young person the previous summer. Their efforts inspired a South Dublin County Council decision to install 66 new ring buoys at 36 waterside locations around the county.

Motivated by the death of a young rugby in Northern Ireland, Orna and her YSI team from Cashel Community School focussed on the issue of concussion in sport. Their awareness campaign highlighting the dangers of concussion led to national media coverage and attracted the attention and support of leading medical experts and campaigners in this field. They also won the Young Social Innovators of the Year 2014 Bronze Award for their project.

bell6Listen to all of their stories on the YSI website at

All YSI teams attend regional Speak Out events where they get two minutes to present their project on stage.

Every young social innovator is invited to attend the Young Social Innovators of the Year celebratory event in Dublin in May. Presentation theatres, exhibitions, games, silent discos, an open mic, and a spectacular awards ceremony make this an event not to be missed!


It’s not too late to get involved this year but you need to hurry!

Email us at or call us on 01 645 8030 to find out how you can take part.

For more information on what we do visit
> Keep up to date with the blogs from this year’s YSI teams at
> Get in touch with us at 01 645 8030 or email