Jamie Mac Uiginn is a Transition Year Student from Pobail Scoil Ghaoth Dobhair in Co Donegal. Along with his friends he has designed a useful Maths book called Number Ninjas which aims to make Maths easier for students. Number Ninjas is in the final of the Junior Achievement Business Of The Year Competition.
We first came up with the idea for Number Ninjas shortly after the Junior Certificate while we were talking about how stressful and confusing the maths exam was and how we wished there was a simple maths book to explain the important and basic parts of maths. Even though we got As and Bs in honours maths we felt textbooks were confusing, heavy, expensive and above all, boring. Normal maths books are necessary for a good grade, but, the authors sometimes forget we are teenagers who might not understand everything.
When the time came to set up a business project in transition year, we saw a niche in the market for a maths books, so we went for it. We highly advise you to buy it if you struggle to understand the basics of maths better. And if it’s not for you, think of your younger brother or sister who are dreading going into secondary school or even your parents who are years out of practice. Our book is light and easily fits in any bag, while being very affordable to anyone.
Our book has many unique selling points such as maths related jokes at the start of each chapter and because we know what exactly students need for their exams, this shaped our motto "for students by students" As transition year students we spent a lot of time in our computer room designing and writing the book, we split the work of making the book up into four equal parts which we showed to our maths teacher. We asked our english teacher to look over the grammar. Patricia Friel, who was our Business volunteer helped us greatly throughout Number Ninjas’ project. She gave us great advice for our company and told us how the Junior Achievement Competition worked.
The first round of Junior Achievement was in our school, where we were up against competitors from our own school, Gairmscoil Mhic Diarmuid and Arranmore Secondary School. We believed in our company, but, with the high standard the other businesses set, we felt getting through was out of reach. We were ecstatic when our name was read out to go through and it significantly boosted our confidence. The next round was the regional finals in Sligo IT, where we were met with fierce competition from schools from counties like, Sligo, Mayo, Galway and of course Donegal.
We had to do a four minute presentation in front of judges, and we did our best to overcome our nerves and stay calm. This time we were more confident that we were going to get through and we were satisfied with how our interview and presentation went. Only two projects could get through and as they began to announce the businesses that didn’t win, we were expecting our name to come up every time, but it didn’t.
We were captivated when our business was chosen to go through. Now our next stage is Dublin, for the national finals where only eight companies get the chance to compete for Junior Achievement Business Of The Year Competition. We feel privileged to take part and to have got this far and would love to win, but really we hope to make the world a more maths friendly place.
You can follow Number Ninjas on Twitter @NumberNinjas or like us on Facebook. If you would like more information about Number Ninjas or to obtain a copy of the Maths book contact email@example.com
“Hey mum, did you see the new trees?!”
“On the green and also all around the estate!”
So off they went to see the new trees. 37 new trees planted all around their estate. All the neighbours were talking about it, and everybody was excited.
One week later:
“Hey mum, did you see somebody broke some off the branches from the trees in our estate, and some of the trees in the next door estate have been broken in half!”
“No, I did not, are you serious?”
“Come. I’ll show you”
So of we went to see the broken trees. Five of the newly planted trees in bits! All the neighbours were talking about it, and everybody was disappointed.
Two weeks later:
“Hey mum we need to do something about the trees, if we do not do something now, there is not going to be a tree left after summer!”
“So, what can we do?”
“We need to get people involved, we need to do something!”
“Okay, you guys can do something and we will support you”
Four weeks later, 16-year-old brothers Juvan and Christivan Maritz applied and received a small Superhero fund from SpunOut.ie to make a difference in their local community. Here is how they got on with their project:
They designed a leaflet and a registration form and distributed it to more than 80 homes in the estate. They wrote to 14 people asking for support or a contribution towards their project. These people included two local politicians, a community project, the Gardaí, the local Council, local print media and local small businesses.
Their idea was to create community awareness and initiate a neighbourhood community policing system to keep and eye on the newly planted trees and general vandalism in the communal area of the Balruddery Wood estate. They also planned a big community festival on the green. 23 homes (more than 30%) signed up for the project, with more than 40 people confirmed for the Green Festival.
On 30 April 2011, at 5pm, the festival took place. The local pub, Balrothery Inn, sponsored burgers, soft drinks and crisps. Tesco Balbriggan also provided party goodies and committed to sponsor a signpost to promote the project.
“Ladies, gentleman and kids. You are very welcome at the launch of our Superhero project sponsored by SpunOut.ie. SpunOut.ie is Ireland's national youth project. Myself and Christivan applied for a small [fund] to make a difference in our community. We are one from eleven projects all over Ireland that are trying to make a difference in our community. We are gathered here today to celebrate our community spirit. We with 10 other projects were selected out of hundreds of applications to make people aware of caring for our environment. We are also concerned about anti-social behaviour, especially the breaking of branches of our newly planted trees and vandalism in our estate.
"We do not have an easy solution, all that we can offer is to create awareness and encourage everybody in the estate to address vandalism and anti-social behaviour. We have invited our community Guards. If you have any questions please feel free to approach them at any time of the day.
“To conclude, I want to say a special thanks to our sponsors Spunout.ie. Balrothery Inn kindly sponsored the burgers, crisps and soft drinks. Thank you Brendan. To Ann O’Brien from Tesco, who sponsored the sweets and other goodies. Today we can also announce that Tesco gave their commitment to sponsor a signpost that will promote the TreeCops Project. This signpost will be displayed at the entrance of this estate and will be a reminder to all that live here as well as guests that we are serious about our trees!
“Thank you for your attendance and special thanks to our community Guards: Gráinne and Kate, for coming down today. Enjoy the burgers and the rest of the day. Then lastly we are now going to plant a tree if the children would like to help they are most welcome.”
The festival was a huge success with lots of new ideas shared between neighbours. Three more project ideas emerged from the community gathering. One is to have street safety awareness training for the children of the estate in conjunction with the Community Guards; another one is to start a petition to the developers to put up a fence at the road side of the green (hopefully local politicians will support us in this regard as it is long outstanding); and the final one is to advocate for seating benches on the green.
All in all, the TreeCops Project was a huge success!
Activism = Campaigning = Organising = Community = Protesting = Building Alternatives = Challenging = Rethinking = Creating
We are all aware of the problems that require our urgent love and attention, both the local and the global; poverty, injustice, the environment, health, wars, resource distribution, politics and yes the global economic model to name but a few. But what I want to deal with here is the issue of power, and more specifically of us all taking ownership of our own power.
We do not live ‘atomic’ separate existences. Even the most reclusive of people live within networks of culture, of law, of infrastructure, of ideas, of education, of politics, and of the systems that deliver and disperse resources. These systems are all created by the actions of humans. This might seem a very obvious thing to say so maybe by now you are asking what on earth I am on about? I’m talking about how individuals and groups can affect these man-made systems and structures. In short, I’m talking about Activism.
The word activism is often taken as a synonym for ‘protest’ but if we use that shorthand explanation it can fool us into thinking that ‘Activism’ is not something we need to concern ourselves with. Not True! We are all ‘active’ in some way or another to create or sustain the types of systems we live in:
When we ignore or abdicate from something as crucial as our place in the world or our community and how we engage with it, we give others permission to engineer our society for us. By allowing others to ‘create society for me’ we are engaging in what we think is harmless ‘inactivity’ but actually manifests itself as a support for things as they are. To take the fitness analogy, not taking control of one’s diet and exercise will have a direct effect on one’s body. Not taking action on the issues that concern you will also have an effect on your society.
Think for a minute of the many things that we take for granted today in Ireland as rights or entitlements, for example weekends or days off from work, voting rights for women, the right not to be a slave, the right to have sex only by choice, the right not to be sentenced to death, or the right to choose our own interests and political affiliations to name just a few.
None of these ‘rights’ are things that were donated or asked for by some generous and wise benefactors. These are all things that people sometime somewhere saw as necessary. They imagined how they would look and function, and then came together to achieve them. I am certain that these people argued, disagreed, conceded and perhaps eventually settled for less than their ideals. We know though, that they continued to struggle and work to get these rights for the very reason that we now have the luxury of taking some of them for granted (though we shouldn’t!).
This work of achieving such freedoms took place over generations, and continued in the face of hardship and resistance. But those involved, to use a euphemism ‘carried the flame’ until these ideas became so firmly entrenched in our culture, that in some shape or form (and imperfect though their realisation might still be) these rights all became socially, legally and culturally deemed as the ‘norm’.
This does not mean that no-one here is oppressed or that we have perfect gender equality, but it does mean that our culture and institutions recognise these as things to which people are entitled; ‘standards’ is a useful word to describe them and that it is recognised as either deviance or criminality when these rights are not respected.
To summarise what I am saying here I will use a quote from anthropologist, Margaret Mead: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; it’s the only thing that ever has.’’
In my opinion, getting involved with issues that concern you is one of the most important things a young person can begin to do. Have you ever heard about an event in history, or heard something in the news that made you really angry or upset? Something that really frustrated you, because you felt like you couldn’t do anything about it?
Well, getting involved with organisations like Amnesty International or Spunout.ie is one way for you to make a substantial difference. Whether you’re signing a petition, or helping out with a demonstration, there’s nothing better than the feeling that you can help change those issues that frustrate you.
And the changes can be substantial. You only need to look at a handful of success stories on Amnesty’s website to know that speaking out for other people, as a group/organisation, works: Aung San Suu Kyi was finally freed in 2010 after over 15 years under house arrest – thanks to thousands of people demanding her release. In 2011, Illinois banned the death penalty.
Many human rights activists and prisoners of conscience (e.g. Emadeddin Baghi, Mao Hengfeng) have been released due to petitions, letters of appeal, demonstrations and protests carried out by Amnesty International and other organisations with similar motives.
Although some of these achievements may seem small in the grand scheme of things, one small victory can have a ripple effect.
So, my advice to young people in Ireland is to use your voice. Don’t be afraid to say what you feel, even if you’re worried about sounding silly sometimes. You may be surprised at the respect you’ll earn from people (whether it’s peers or adults) from simply being outspoken. You may also be surprised at how one person or group of people, if they’re determined enough, can help change the world. Do not be mute.
Remember these sayings:
”Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say”. - William Shakespeare
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has”. - Mary Mead
Check out our factsheets and opinion pieces on engaging in society. This is a key area that the SpunOut Action Panel has prioritised for 2013.
Tips to help you take action and make a positive difference.
Ireland is a democracy, which means the people elect their representatives and government by means of secret ballot.
Joining a political party means that you are registering with a political party and letting them and the world know that you generally support their causes and activates.
One SpunOutter gives her opinions on whether the voting age should be lowered to 16.
Ireland is a constitutional democracy (you’ve lost me already SpunOut!). Well, this basically means that we get to have a say in who runs our country and what the laws of the land are.
The Know Your Rights information packs are provided by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL). They are a series of booklets designed to inform people about their rights, which the ICCL has rolled out as part of its Know Your Rights public information project. The booklet is designed to inform the general public, in clear and accessible language, of their rights in the areas of Garda search powers, arrest, interview, detention, provision of bodily samples and public order.
The State gets its power from the People of Ireland through the Constitution of Ireland (Bunreacht na hÉireann). The Constitution sets out some of the rights of people who live in Ireland. We also have rights under the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). All agents of the State, including An Garda Síochána, must act in line with the Constitution and the ECHR.
The Constitution is interpreted by the courts and is supplemented by more detailed laws, which must also be in line with the Constitution. The law must also follow the ECHR and the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. Gardaí must act according to court rulings and legislation, otherwise they may be breaking the law.
If you have any doubts about the way you have been treated by the Gardaí, if they have interfered with any of your rights, you should contact a solicitor.
Bike Week is taking place this June 15th-23rd and here at SpunOut, we are encouraging people to saddle up and get cycling. The benefits to cycling are endless; it’s cheap, saves you money on transport and is a great means of exercise and keeping fit.
So if it’s something you’ve never done or you’ve been thinking of getting back on yer bike (see what I did there), why not use Bike Week 2013 as your excuse. And yes, that is sunshine outside so there’s nothing stopping you.
There are cycling events taking place all over the country from road races, city rides and heritage cycles to suit every age and ability so get peddling! To find out about events that might be taking place near you, check out Bike Week 2013 and follow them on Twitter or Facebook.
And if you live in Dublin and can’t afford a bike, the city has one of the best rent- a-bike schemes in the world. It’s so good they’re currently expanding the number of stations from 58-102, which means the amount of bikes is trebling to 1500.
Also, if you want to purchase a new bike, Bike Week is just the right time to do it as there are a lot of bicycle shops like Giant, Dublin and Smyth’s toy stores have freebies and discounts on bikes and cycling equipment. You can find out more about these offers here.
So whether you want to commute to work now that the summer has arrived or get more active, give cycling a go. You set the pace so it’s simples!
Here at SpunOut.ie we're big fans of Kid President. 'Kid who..' you say? Well, If you haven't come across Kid President's videos on YouTube then you are missing out big time. Kid President is otherwise known as Robby Novak, age 10. His wish for us all to “treat everybody like it’s their birthday,” every single day.
“I don’t know everything, I’m just a kid, but I do know this: it’s everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance.”, this is words of wisdom from Robby Novak, better known to many simply as “Kid President”. He has somehow spiced up the world of motivational speaking in his mission to “make the world less boring.” Some might consider this quite an ambitious dream for a 10-year-old boy, but then again, not many 10-year-olds can boast a YouTube account with millions of views.
If you’re unfamiliar with his message, check out his most popular video below which has over 24 million views on YouTube.
So how did Kid President come to be? Some of Robby’s early videos, which he and his brother-in-law put up online for their family and friends to see, caught the eye of Rainn Wilson, best known for portraying Dwight Schrute on the American version of The Office. Wilson soon put up videos of Robby’s inspirational pep talks on SoulPancake, the YouTube channel he co-founded, and the rest is history. Robby’s original video on the channel now sits with over 24 million views.
With every click of a button, Robby inspires millions of people to get up from their computers and make the most of each day. What started as a goofy project between he and his brother-in-law has morphed into a “take action” phenomenon which has extended from “Kid President” to the President of the United States himself.
But perhaps the most inspiring part of Kid President’s story has been his refusal to let life’s challenge obstruct his journey for happiness. Robby, along with his sister, was born with a condition called Osteogenesis imperfecta, better known as Brittle Bone syndrome. This is a genetic disorder in which the body is impaired from producing strong bones, causing many of them to break easily.
In fact, Robby has had over 70 broken bones and already had 13 reparative surgeries. He has had steel rods inserted into both of his legs. But through this struggle, Robby remains positive. “I’m trying not to worry about it,” he said. “I’m just a kid who wants to have fun.”
We should all strive to live as Robby does. Life is tough, and there’s no getting around that, but remember that it doesn’t have to be a competition between all of us. There’s room for success for everyone. As Robby says, “If life is a game, aren’t we all on the same team? I mean really, right? I’m on your team, you’re on my team.”
Dublin's Gay Pride festival is in its 30th year and taking place from June 21st-30th.
The festival started first in 1983 as a one day event and now runs for ten days and hosts a wide range of art, cultural and social events. The theme of the ten-day festival is “Live, Love & Be Proud” and celebrates LGBT life in Dublin. These events will culminate with the Gay Pride Parade on Saturday, 29th of June. A full index of events can be viewed here. Or you can flick through the official guide here.
On Monday 6th May, Endangered Bodies went out on the streets of Dublin to celebrate International No Diet Day. We had designed our own t-shirts for the event and had information on intuitive eating and Endangered Bodies to give out, as well as a few tasty treats.
The aim of No Diet Day is to promote body acceptance and healthy at any size. Intuitive eating is listening to your body’s needs – eating when you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full.
We stopped off at the Spire on O’ Connell Street, Temple Bar and near Stephen’s Green park. We gave out ‘Love Your Body’ stickers and they seemed to go down a treat. A couple of Gardaí even took a sticker or two. A good few ladies seem to really appreciate what we were doing and happy to share in our celebration of No Diet Day. They saluted us with smiles, cheers and ice-cream cones.
‘No Diet Day’ was about choosing healthy eating over denying yourself. Skip the baby food and liquid diets and just opt for healthy carbs and your 5+ a day. And don’t feel bad about treating yourself the odd time too. If you’re going to enjoy a tasty snack, feel good about it. It’s all in the balance. A lot of people struggle with dieting and end up putting the weight back on. Don’t hate on your body – you’re a beaut - APPRECIATE! Now...Doesn’t that feel nice? Choose gratitude instead
You might not have heard about Endangered Bodies before. Endangered Bodies Ireland is the Irish branch of an international organisation that works to challenge the industries that promote body hatred and turn us against our own bodies.
The different branches of Endangered Bodies, based in cities all over the world, have taken action against these industries in a variety of ways and on a number of levels – from small, personal actions like supporting brands that promote body positive messages, to higher level activism like holding demonstrations, working with industry stakeholders and getting involved in political lobbying.
So far Endangered Bodies Ireland has -
By Anna Kerslake,
A member of Endangered Bodies Ireland.
Did you know that only 11 per cent of TDs in the Dáil are women? Did you know that every day, Irish people with disabilities are prevented from making their own decisions under the archaic “Lunacy Act”, which dates from 1871? Did you know that one in four Irish people will have problems with mental health in their lifetimes? This is just a fraction of what I learned at the SpunOut.ie Women’s Academy last weekend. However, these facts alone are enough to inspire me to change the world. I really mean it! To paraphrase Suzy Byrne, a blogger and campaigner who opened our weekend: - “ young people need to get involved – and angry!”
Over two sweltering days, 16 young Irish women heard from one another and a number of speakers. The speakers were as diverse as they were impassioned – we heard from “life coach” Marian Byrne, who taught us about mindfulness – which is, apparently, essential if you’re organising a successful campaign or protest. So much of the Academy was about so much more than women’s issues, it was about empowerment.
I arrived unspeakably early at the Academy expecting to (and this is a direct quote from my notes) “generally make the world a better place…and smash the patriarchy”. Of course, my eyes were quickly opened, there is so many more issues out there, some linked to feminism and some not. Mental health was a huge topic for the weekend.
Caroline McGuigan, the founder of Suicide or Survive, spoke with genuine honesty about her experiences with mental health. After her talk, I was left wishing that more Irish people could be like her; not only did she discuss her mental health candidly, but she did so with humour and warmth. The topic of Irish attitudes to mental health issues isn’t going away. We need more like Caroline out there to show that you can be both strong and vunerable; and that’s ok.
If someone asked me my favourite aspect of the weekend, I’d have to say the atmosphere. Take 16 young women who are passionate about changing the face of Irish society and put them in a room together for two days. It was pretty magical, to be honest. Discussions on mindfulness, campaigning and motivation were met with equal enthusiasm by the group; we carried on our discussion long after the academy had ended for the day, too. I honestly couldn’t get over it – as a somewhat jaded student and feminist, it was truly remarkable to be able to work with such, there’s that word again, inspiring women. It sounds a bit silly, but I really did leave the Academy ready to change the world.
Of course, the weekend wasn’t all about inspiration and injustice. SpunOut gave us a chance to indulge our creative sides through poetry and art over the course of the weekend. Colm Keegan, a truly amazing Dublin poet, pushed some of us to our limits by getting us to write a poem on something close to our hearts in fifteen minutes. Artist Niamh Heery brought us to the streets – her “artivism” was an exercise in expressing a political message through an art installation.
In other words: it was very cool. One group discussed mental health and the “Black Dog” of depression on the streets of Dublin; another looked at women in politics and the issues that surround that. My own group took to various shops around Dublin with yellow placards, highlighting the problems with portrayals of women in the media.
The weekend was absolutely amazing and (I have to work this joke in) I’d like to thank the Academy…no, really. Sometimes it’s difficult to be a young Irishwoman in 2013 and it was inspiring to hear so many people tell us that we’re capable of doing anything we want to do. That was the brilliance of the Academy – empowerment, and the belief that a small group of committed people can – and will – change the world.
Check out the Twitter feed in the gallery below.
It’s June and that means summer holidays and lots of free time to submit loads of content to SpunOut.ie. We’re excited that it’s summer, which means sunny weather, festivals, longer evenings and lots of free time to do stuff.
However, it can also mean lots of time and nothing to do, lack of cash and boredom.
This month we’re looking for articles on:
Have you got one? Are there still summer jobs out there for young people? Or maybe you created your own summer job? Spill the beans…
Summer Boredom busters
School and college are out for summer. What are you doing to beat the summer boredom?
Plans for summer
Are you heading on a J1 visa, will you be working or simply dossing about and enjoying the long summer days. Either way we want to hear about it!
Are you waiting on your leaving cert results and stuck in no man’s land between secondary school and college? How are you coping?
Gap Year vs. College
Are you taking a gap year? If so, we want to hear what you’ll be spending your time doing.
Coping with younger siblings
Are they constantly borrowing your stuff? We want your tips on coping with younger brothers or sisters.
Thrift shopping; yay or nay?
Has Macklemore made shopping in charity shops cool? Do you shop in charity shops, and if so tell us about the bargains you have nabbed.
Tips on dressing for summer.
Alcohol sports sponsorship
How do you feel about alcohol companies sponsoring sporting events?
There’s nothing better than sticking on a good summer song to get you in a good mood. What summer tune is guaranteed to put you in the summer mood?
Summer volunteering experiences
Is volunteering worth it? What’s your experience?
True life stories
True life stories are an important part of SpunOut.ie and we want to hear your first-hand experience of surviving in the big bad world.
We also want you to send in your articles or videos that deal with different topics which you think will be of interest to other 16-25 year olds. We don’t set the agenda as to what you should create content on- we simply give you some ideas.
Read our submission guidelines before your get started. Any Q’s… Just drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.