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Hundreds of teenagers from South East gather for Youth Day 2023

Hundreds of teenagers from South East gather for Youth Day 2023

A celebration of students' involvement in the Young St. Vincent de Paul programme seen hundreds of people gather this afternoon for Youth Day 2023.

Secondary school students across the region showcased their projects in the South East Technological University Arena Waterford, which included projects based around support and friendships, promoting self sufficiency and working for social justice.

The aim of the youth branch of SVP is to encourage young people to get involved in their local communities and create a social awareness and supports for those in second and third-level education.

An opportunity to make a difference

Youth Development Officer for SVP in the South East, Debbie Donohoe, has the role of generating workshops within schools across the region.


Debbie explains that while the idea is to engage students with their surrounding communities, she's also conscious that the students she's working with could be in a situation of need and vulnerability. This means that Debbie approaches the schools with those students in mind.

"I have to be very mindful when I'm going into classrooms and I'm talking about people who are struggling with the rising cost of living or from poverty, that I could be speaking to the students sitting in front of me. It's very important that we're mindful of that," Debbie told Beat News.

"I think it's [about] empathy. It's to get them to think about other people and to get them to think about if they have the opportunity to make a difference, they should. And they do. They have all done that which is amazing."

Over 300 hundred students were in the SETU Arena today and the atmosphere was incredible as a positive energy was bursting through the doors and students were beaming with pride.


There was music, face painting, singing and dancing - and that was before the stage presentations even began! Students were curious about projects done by other schools and the exhibition gave them the chance to set up their stand and chat to students from across the South East before delivering their stage presentations.

The students' view

Many students at the event were delighted to be able to interact with the other schools as this was the first event since 2019 as Covid-19 temporarily parked the Youth Day celebrations.

Being back in the SETU Arena meant that students could chat about how others got involved in their communities and they also had the opportunity to speak to past participants of the Young SVP programme, mostly 5th year students, as they came back to volunteer at the event today.

A Wexford student told Beat News they would encourage young people to get involved with SVP as they work towards social justice.


Pip Tomkins of Coláiste an Átha said, "it's a great charity and it's great for people who need stuff. We have, well, most of us here, have everything we need and I think that everybody should deserve at least decent human rights."

Other students from the region spoke to Beat News about what the charity means to them and why Young SVP plays a huge part in their lives.

One student said that the Young SVP community "is great because you get to be with your friends and you're organising things to make other people happy and support communities that don't have a lot."

Another student projected their voice over the crowd and the music while Beat spoke to a group of students and that individual said, "it just feels good to help people who need it," to which everyone agreed.

Corey Dowdall from Presentation College, Carlow says that the SVP can help in many ways, but reaching out is if you're struggling is the first step. Corey says, "I would definitely look and see if your school has a Young SVP Community. It can definitely help you find that sense of community with a lot of people you wouldn't have even thought of speaking to to begin with."

It doesn't stop there... what about college?

Of course there's the SVP for adults and we've learned about the Young SVP for schools, but that support continues into third-level.

Whether it's that you need support from the organisation, or wish to join to help others, there are particular supports in place for those in colleges or universities.

SVP societies in colleges are student-led and they organise their activities each year based on their interests and skills.

In a statement from SVP they say, "our college groups run regular social justice workshops to develop their understanding of the context in which they work and take part in fundraising and campaigning. Some College societies also engage in a variety of direct contact work, including with children, older people, people experiencing homelessness and people in college."

Overseeing the colleges and third-level aspect of the SVP community is Niamh Brennan and she says that it's important for students to recognise that there's a continuation there from second to third-level.

Niamh also told Beat News that the students who have received support from the charity, often approach them later and are very grateful so they give back to the charity in many different ways in support of others who may need their help.

"I've run open days for SVP in different colleges and the amount of students who have come up to me and say they have been helped by SVP in their education and because of that they then want to get involved. Nearly every open day, somebody has come up saying thanks for the help they've gotten.

"It's extremely positive and they want to help and volunteer too," she said.

For more information on Young SVP you can check out their website here and to keep up to date with all the latest news on our website Beat102103.com.