Transition Year students represented Killarney Community College at this year’s Young Social Innovators Speakout which took place last Thursday 8th March in Cork City Hall. The Young Social Innovators (YSI) Programme for senior cycle is a youth-led, team-based, action focused programme. Working in teams, young people aged 15-18 identify a social issue of concern to them, explore it and come up with real actions and responses. The students in Killarney Community College chose an issue they feel very passionately about. The aim of the student’s project is to raise awareness of the Deaf Community here in Killarney and encourage people to learn sign language. They believed that this issue needed to be explored in order to create a more inclusive society especially now that ISL (Irish Sign Language) which is now officially recognised as a native and independent language in Ireland. This legislation was passed by the Dáil in December 2017 which was put forward by Senator Mark Daly. Their teacher YSI Guide Ms. Lorraine Crowley received an award for the most inspiring YSI leader guide to her students. She encouraged and motivated them throughout their project.
The TY students completed research to find out the level of knowledge and awareness of the deaf community the students already possessed. They also invited Aileen Curtaine from DeafHear Killarney to visit their class with her daughter Aisling who is a member of the deaf community. Aisling explained how she wants people outside of the deaf community to learn some basic sign language so we can all communicate. This is a wish for many people who are deaf and this motivated the students to organise sign language classes for their Transition Year class. The students are currently learning sign language with John Patrick Doherty who himself is a member of the deaf community. This is a QQI Level 3 Certificate and once they have this completed, these Young Social Innovators hope to teach sign language to the first years in the school. The students are creating a positive influence in the community.