Transition-year students at St. Columba’s Comprehensive School in Glenties are working on a cancer-awareness project inspired by the tragic illness and death of their friend and fellow student, Martina Maguire of Ardara.
They are among three groups of St. Columba’s TY students taking part in this year’s Young Social Innovators programme, with projects designed to raise awareness of different cancers. Members of all three groups will take part in the Relay for Life fundraiser for the Irish Cancer Society in Letterkenny in May.
The students will present their work on March 20th in Ballybofey, and groups from there go on to the annual Young Social Innovators showcase in Dublin in May. Sister Stanislaus Kennedy is the driving force behind the national programme, intended to get young people talking and thinking about social issues.
Fifth-year student Martina, age 16, passed away in January of this year, months after she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
In a report detailing their project on leukemia, called “#ForTina”, the students wrote that when they learned of Martina’s diagnosis, they wanted to make people aware of the disease and its symptoms.
Martina “was and remains their inspiration to change things and to make more young people aware of leukemia’s symptoms and treatments,” said St. Columba’s teacher Mary McLoughlin, who is guiding the school’s young social innovators in their work.
Nine male students undertook the project, “Don’t be a chancer with prostate cancer”, researching the disease and making posters and leaflets. They chose their subject because, “the boys thought men are being a bit forgotten,” Mary said.
The third project, “Finding the lump before it finds you”, was chosen by students who had been affected by breast cancer, and includes a survey of senior students among awareness-raising efforts.
The students are dedicated to their projects, Mary said, adding, “The work is going very well.”