Marists Make a Wish …… and win! Winners of National School Entrepreneurship Award

Norah Casey with students of St. Mary's College, Dundalk with a Make-A-Wish ‘Kids for Wish Kids’ award for excellence in ‘Marketing and Communications’ for their UPCYCLE Trade Fair fundraiser
Norah Casey with students of St. Mary’s College, Dundalk with a Make-A-Wish ‘Kids for Wish Kids’ award for excellence in ‘Marketing and Communications’ for their UPCYCLE Trade Fair fundraiser

There was great excitement among the Transition Year students in St. Mary’s College this week. One of their mini-companies, UpCycle-Me, won a prestigious National School Entrepreneurship Award, awarded by the charity “Make a Wish Foundation”. They were one of only three schools in the country to do so. The Make a Wish charity aims to make the dreams of terminally ill children come true. They receive no government funding.

The Transition Year students attended the awards ceremony in Dublin recently. The ceremony was hosted by the CEO of Make A Wish Foundation, Susan O’ Dwyer, Jenny Murray of Peter Marks and Linda O’Shea, National Parents’ Council. The prizes were presented by the inspirational entrepreneur Norah Casey, who is a TV and publishing personality, and formerly of Dragons Den.

On receipt of their award the students had to explain how their ideas came about. This group of socially aware Transition Year students established their mini –company UpCycle –Me in September 2016. The Company was formed and is managed by Kerry Lawless, Áinnle Kinney, Megan Clarke and Caoimhe Bailey from St. Mary’s College.

They didn’t envisage the road to success they were about to venture down. Their empathy for the environment and the well-being of our community members inspired the students to pursue a number of different avenues.

Firstly the company, after a thorough brainstorming and a feasibility study, decided to develop and produce garden ornaments with a sensory aspect from completely recyclable materials. Such products included Wind Shakers, Decorative jars, Angels and novelty creatures such Frogs and Ladybirds. Their interest and enthusiasm flourished, which led the students to work closely with the Maria Goretti Respite Centre for children in Lordship.

This project saw the students help design and create a sensory garden for the Centre, featuring giant minions, caterpillars and ladybirds made from recycled tyres. The students embraced this challenge and identified a further product idea in the form of sensory boards. These are visual boards that predominantly aim to arouse the senses of vision, touch, smell and hearing for children with learning requirements which places them on the spectrum. The boards are made from various materials, images and functions. The aim is to teach students some important skills such as fastening buttons, zipping a garment, tying a shoe lace and locking/unlocking a door. They are also filled with attractive images, smells and textures.

The students in their development of these boards decided to donate them to the various schools in the locality on their completion. The girls are hugely proud of their success and are motivated to continue to give something back. They have their thinking hats back on with a list of fundraising activities for the two charities etched in their hearts.