Volunteer Celebration - A huge thanks to our amazing volunteers

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to thank our amazing volunteers again this year at our annual Volunteer Celebration! The Celebration was held in Third Space, Smithfield who gave us a very warm welcome for the night. We were also generously supported again this year by The Hilton Charlemont Place who provided canapés and desserts. 

An incredible 16 volunteers across 5 programmes earned awards for 100 hours of volunteering with Solas Project, with a further 19 being recognised for their long standing commitment to Solas Project.

We were honoured to have as our guest speaker Christina Noble, founder of the Christina Noble Children’s Foundation, who was born on Marrowbone Lane here in Dublin 8. Christina spoke to us about the importance of having one key adult to build trust with as a young person. Her tales from her life, and her singing ensured it was a night that we won’t soon forget!

Christina Noble from Christina Noble Foundation

Christina Noble from Christina Noble Foundation

 

It was also a time for goodbyes, as it was the final night for several of our interns. Andrew and Kaja have completed an 11 month long European Voluntary Service project with us, and will be returning to their homes for further study. Lorna spent the past 9 months with our Senior Afterschool Club, and Julia was with us for a short term student internship from the US. The diversity of our volunteers and interns adds so much to the team and the experience of the children we support. We are grateful to have Sandra continuing on in to the next school year during her EVS time!

Interns Andrew, Kaja, Sandra, Lorna and Julia

Interns Andrew, Kaja, Sandra, Lorna and Julia

Thank you so much to all of our volunteers who give so much of themselves throughout the year! We could not do what we do without you.

If you are interested in finding out more about volunteering or interning with Solas Project, please contact Elizabeth@solasproject.ie

It was the sunny day that we’d been hoping for on Thursday 15th June 2017.  Ideal for our annual Solas Project Tag Rugby Blitz 2017!  Co-ordinating 12 schools, 423 children, 84 corporate mentors, 8 refs. 15 pitch coordinators and 4 face painters is no joke - so a huge well done to Ste for being the chief organiser for this event!

Preparations started early for staff and volunteers and soon the schools started pouring in on buses to UCD sports grounds from the city centre.

Getting the Solas Project banner up; ‘Supporting and equipping young people’.

Getting the Solas Project banner up; ‘Supporting and equipping young people’.

Firstly, there were warm ups and team talks with business mentors, before the matches got under way. 

Warm ups with Ebay volunteers.

Warm ups with Ebay volunteers.

Practicing passing skills.

Practicing passing skills.

Volunteer from Savills getting their team warmed up.

Volunteer from Savills getting their team warmed up.

Once the matches had begun, there was great support from on and off the side-lines!  We found that face paint really helped promote team morale!

Volunteer with the Marist Primary School students

Volunteer with the Marist Primary School students

Catapult supporter cheering from the side-lines!

Catapult supporter cheering from the side-lines!

 

The Tag Rugby Blitz is the culmination of our Solas Sports programme which we run in 12 primary schools over the year.  Solas Sports is one of the components to our Solas@School initiatives, which also includes Solas Business and Solas College.  Each of these programmes, aims to promote self-worth, foster motivation and build character. 

 

The game in mid-flow!

The game in mid-flow!

 

Tag rugby is usually a new skill for most of the classes, and as such really lends itself to teaching cooperation and team-work!  During the five week programme in schools, where a Solas Project staff member and our business volunteers discuss with the class themes such as, ‘Words have power’, ‘Courage build character’, ‘Choices Have Consequences’, and then seek to put these words into action on the pitch and in life. 

 

Scoil Treasa Naofa playing Scoil Íosagáin.

Scoil Treasa Naofa playing Scoil Íosagáin.

Courage builds character!

Courage builds character!

‘I really liked that it wasn’t just about the sports for me.  I learned to think before I speak or do and I love the idea that choices have consequences because I play basketball and other sports and I use all that [learning].  The consequence was I got ‘Most Valuable Player’ in basketball.,’ quote from a 5th class student talking about their experience of Solas Sports.

‘I really liked Solas Sports because it really helped me with my anger,’ commented a 6th class student in a review of Solas@School.

TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More

TEAM = Together Everyone Achieves More

The Blitz serves as a great opportunity to see business mentors again and celebrate the year’s work and growth!

Long term Solas Project supporters Mainstream Renewable Energy with their team

Long term Solas Project supporters Mainstream Renewable Energy with their team

The Team from Scoil Íosagáin and Catapult Events

The Team from Scoil Íosagáin and Catapult Events

The fabulous day ended with the corporate mentors taking to the pitch, while the children took a turn at supporting and encouraging!

Byrne Wallace and others play Bank of American Merrill Lynch.

Byrne Wallace and others play Bank of American Merrill Lynch.

 

And of course a group photo…

Solas Project Tag Rugby Blitz 2017

Solas Project Tag Rugby Blitz 2017

This day is so important to us and does not come together easily, we would really like to give a huge thank you to all who supported us, Joe Carthy and the team at UCD, our photographer Jaclyn Visbeen,  Leinster Rugby for providing flags for each team, all the refs who gave up their time, past Solas Project staff members Andrew and Tim, to name but a few. Thanks to all our teacher, business mentors, volunteers and the children!  We look forward to seeing you next year for another great day out!

If your business is interested in partnering with us for next year, please contact Clodagh@solasproject.ie

Ready for the next challenge: Take part in our Triathlon on September 2nd

 

Solas Business Final

Solas Business

It was with great excitement and a sprinkling of nerves that teachers, business mentors and students poured into our venue at St Catherine’s Church last Wednesday for our bi-annual Solas Business Community Final.  This particular Solas Project event is always a highlight of our year, as schools get the opportunity to showcase the creativity and innovation that is sprouting up in classrooms of inner city Dublin.

Students arriving to the final.

Students arriving to the final.

The run up to this day, involves months of dreaming and scheming in Solas Project offices as well as in the classrooms and boardrooms of Dublin.  Each of our seven schools are paired with a team of enthusiastic and skilled business mentors.  For this particular final, our schools reached as far north as St. Paul’s Primary School in Brunswick Street and as far south as the Marist Primary, Crumlin.  Over 5 weeks of the Solas Business experience the students, grouped into teams, were paired with business mentors from a range of companies including, Google, Savills, Byrne Wallace, State Street GA, Catapult and Dropbox.

A full house at St Catherine’s as seven schools come together for the Solas Business Community Final.

A full house at St Catherine’s as seven schools come together for the Solas Business Community Final.

These newly formed ‘companies’ then worked together to bring an idea from its rawest form in the brainstorming session right through to the point where the product or service was ready to be pitched on stage.  Our business mentors championed their team from the beginning to end of the process, fostering the growth of self-worth, character and motivation of each student along the way.

Pupils from St. James’s Primary School greeting the judges.

Pupils from St. James’s Primary School greeting the judges.

Solas Business Community Final always showcases the most imaginative and ground-breaking ideas, so it seemed fitting that our panel of judges also reflected a breadth of interests, background and creativity.  Our panel was made up of Fiach MacConghail (CEO of Digital Hub), Sinéad Moriarty (best-selling author), Joe Carthy (Principal of Science, University College Dublin), Eimear Clowry Delaney (Assistant Director or University of Notre Dame), Alice Dawson (Communications Coordinator, Oxfam Ireland) and Eoghan Heaslip (Minister at St. Catherine’s Church). 

Presentation Primary School Warrenmount supporting their team, ‘The Fluffy Bunnies’

Presentation Primary School Warrenmount supporting their team, ‘The Fluffy Bunnies’

The judges were in awe as they heard about shopping trolleys that you can fold up and bring with you, school bags that you don’t need to carry or another version of schoolbag which has back massagers inbuilt, footballs that return to you when kicked over the wall and onesies with automated temperature control for the homeless.

Judges asking questions, (left to right) Fiach MacConghail, Alice Dawson, Joe Carthy and Sinéad Moriarty.

Judges asking questions, (left to right) Fiach MacConghail, Alice Dawson, Joe Carthy and Sinéad Moriarty.

After being wowed by the presentations, the judges were sent away to deliberate, while the schools and business mentors passed the time practicing Mexican Waves and walking with fidget spinners on their noses!

Midway through our Mexican Wave!

Midway through our Mexican Wave!

As well as an opportunity to showcase the talent of the community, the Community Final also offers the judges an opportunity to pick one winning team and a runner up.  After much deliberation under time pressure, the judges awarded the 1st Prize to ‘Clever Bots’ from Miss Simcox’s class in St. Brigid’s Primary School, The Coombe.  This team had developed an entire robot world that could converse, offer companionship and even help out with everyday tasks!  Their model of a tiny bot, called ‘Jeoff’ teared up when he heard they’d won!  As their prize, St. Brigid’s Primary School will receive €400 to spend as a school.  We’ve heard that there have been suggestions that the school spends it on a chocolate fountain for the yard or guinea pig for the classroom, but we’re yet to hear the final approved decision!

Team ‘Clever Bots’ from St Brigid’s Primary School presenting their idea

Team ‘Clever Bots’ from St Brigid’s Primary School presenting their idea

In second place, ‘Team Care & Kind’ from Ms. Flannery’s class in St James’s Primary School, Basin Lane received a €100 voucher for Easons.  This company came up with a product that can change the flavour of any bad tasting medicine or tablet, helping both children and adults take their required medicine.

Team Care and Kind’ and their mentors Claire and Orla from Byrne Wallace receiving their prize as runner’s up.

Team Care and Kind’ and their mentors Claire and Orla from Byrne Wallace receiving their prize as runner’s up.

All in all, the Community Final was yet another spectacular display of the potential that lies with the young people in our community.   We walked away feeling inspired and our imaginations re-ignited!  Thank you to all our partner schools and businesses for all the time, effort and support to create a platform upon which these young people could shine!