A project on testicular cancer awareness has won Coláiste Iosagáin's TYs the national Young Social Innovators award.
Transition year class 2, led by teacher Carol Browne, decided last September on their 'Man Up' project, highlighting a cancer that affects young men, because many students knew little about it, or how to check for it.
“Testicular cancer is rare, but is 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.
We learned that 30,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed in Ireland each year, but also that 30% of cancer related deaths are preventable through lifestyle changes such as early detection,” said student Niamh Lawlor.
They enlisted the help of the Irish Cancer Society, The Oncology Unit, Tullamore, local GPs and testicular cancer survivors to analyse information and examine statistics.
To get their message out they set up twitter (letstackleTC) and instagram (tackletesticularcancer) accounts.
Campaign posters ‘Let’s Tackle Testicular Cancer’ also went up around the school to encourage self-examination and discussion of testicular cancer, its causes, effects and prevention.
The students also promoted the positive message of the 95 percent survival rates for testicular cancer when detected early.
They printed stickers for local sports clubs to display in dressing rooms with a step by step guide on monthly self examination.
They held an awareness day 'Keep your Eye on the Ball' on March 16 in school, with fun sports stations, 'tackle' games, and information stands on cancer, causes, prevention and coping with diagnosis, helped by Leinster’s Leo the Lion and Portarlington Rugby Club.
It has had a real effect.
“We have seen a real change in the school. We reduced the stigma and myths surrounding cancer. We opened conversations on social media and links between the school and sports clubs to encourage young men to take pride in their health and well-being,” said Rachel Downey.
The students qualified at YSI's Regional ‘Speak Outs’ in Kilkenny in March and were invited to ‘Showcase’ at the National Awards in City West on May 10.
From the 454 national YSI projects submitted, they were chosen as winners of their challenge category ‘Making Our World Healthier – Physical Well Being’.
“Having our school name and project announced among the 6,000 students in City West was a highlight of the year and a huge honour,” said Rebecca Fitzpatrick.