01 Dec 2021

IN PICTURES Student Enterprise Awards nurture budding entrepreneurial talent in Laois

Laois Local Enterprise Office hosts annual school awards in Portlaoise

Headphones to help people with sound sensitivity is the sound business idea of a Laois teenager that won her first prize in the Laois Student Enterprise awards.

Alice Carew, 16, from Mountrath Community School, will now represent Laois at the national final in Croke Park on May 2.
Alice was thrilled to win first place at the hosted by the Laois Local Enterprise Office county final in the Midlands Park Hotel last Wednesday March 7.

"I'm delighted, I think this will really help to get the product out there. I wasn't expecting to win, I was just looking forward to getting more people aware of Lulls. Getting to the final is really exciting," she said.

The TY student hopes to help children with autism.

"I went to Timahoe NS where there is an early intervention autism unit. I noticed that if the room was noisy, children got distressed and put their hands over their ears. I did research and found out how common sound sensitivity is. There was nothing on the market, other than isolators, earmuffs that cut out sound, but isolate the child," she said.

Alice programmed a circuit board with music, then attached it to headphones, and trialled it at Timahoe NS.

She found a manufacturer in China and went to TSI Flowmeters, a business in Portlaoise, and they gave me a loan of €10,000.

She has since sourced a carry case and packaging and hopes to officially launch 'Lulls' at a conference of Laois Offaly Families for Autism. She has already sold 12 sets, which retail at €69.99.

"The feedback is good, it really touched my heart to see the difference they made. I hope to sell them all around Ireland, even to mainstream schools, for anyone with anxiety, adhd or just having a hard time," said Alice.

She thanked her parents Martina and Tim Carew , and her teachers Rita Moore and Evelyn O'Driscoll.

The exhibition featured 27 projects from seven Laois schools. Second place was awarded to Schuchleberry & Co, also from Mountrath CS, by young beekeeper Eoin Schuch, who with Robert O'Sullivan and Emmet Conroy, sell jars of Laois honey and beeswax candles.

Third place went to a Heywood CS team for Snack Zone. Fionn Holland, Adam Mulhall and Eoin Ryan pooled their summer job wages to buy a secondhand vending machine to sell healthy snacks and drinks in the school. They've made €2,600.

Best Display went to Ready Made from Scoil Chríost Rí students, Roisin Kirby, Ellen Major and Grace O'Brien who sell pamper hampers.

The Business Innovation Award went to Kris Kindling from Coláiste Iosagáin Portarlington made up of Ben Slevin, Sean McCloskey, Adam Maher and Billy Whelan. They source free offcuts of wood from a local company, and cut and package it to sell in shops for kindling. They have made a profit of €920 and intend to continue their venture.

The Team Spirit award went to Glitzy Glam, Portlaoise College students who sourced and sell good quality make-up brushes at a low price. They are Akira Okonkwo, Amber Dalton, Larry Lynch, Courtney Brennan, Michal Kuras, Callum Collins and Mahmoud Said.

Evelyn Reddin is the CEO of Laois LEO. "The standard was very high, it is improving every year. It is a great initiative for students to take part in because they gain life skills as well as business skills. Lulls is out on its own, it's a good project to bring to the national final," she said.

The judges were: PJ Ralph from Bank of Ireland, Patricia Frayne, Co-ordinator Portlaoise Enterprise Centre . Clair Dunleavy, Kildare Local Enterprise Board. Sean Ryan co-ordinated.

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