Home News Community Laois students secure Dragons Den funding for their school

Laois students secure Dragons Den funding for their school

Students from St Mary’s CBS, Portlaoise secured €270 in funding to advance their project aimed at making their school more inclusive for visually impaired students.

The teenagers pitched their social innovation project idea virtually to a Dragons’ Den Panel including representatives from Virgin Media, Unilever Ireland and TUSLA during the recent Den event series, hosted by Young Social Innovators.

Witnessing the support needed by their visually impaired classmates to safely navigate the school building, the YSI team ‘Fight For Sight’ want to introduce braille signage, maps and systems throughout the school to enable a greater degree of independence for these students.

The teenagers are taking part in Young Social Innovators this year, along with thousands of teenagers across Ireland who are creating and implementing social innovation projects on issues they care about.

The Portlaoise CBS group consists of: Cormac Allen, Dean Culliton, Devin Walsh, Gary Young-O’Shea, Luke Walsh, Finn Brophy, Joshua Murray-Carton, Michael Whyte, Pádraig Delaney and TJ McDonald.

One of those, Luke Walsh, said: “Our aim is to raise awareness about visual impairments and create a more inclusive environment for people with visual impairments to be more independent and live a more normal day to day life.

“We have spoken to students who are visually impaired about their needs and we have tried to get to know the difficulties they face.

“We appreciate this is a huge issue that needs to be addressed and, most importantly, we are very passionate about this project.

“If successful, it will make it easier for students with visual impairment to live a normal life and have more independence in their day to day lives in a safe environment.”

Young Social Innovators hosts the Den events every year, making available a Social Innovation Fund to support teenagers’ ideas to tackle social issues in an effort to create a fairer, more equal and sustainable world.

A further 18 teams from around Ireland pitched at two further Social Innovation Den events.

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.