Ashoka Ireland Quarterly - Autumn 2014

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On October 17th, Ashoka Ireland welcomed educators, social entrepreneurs, students and leaders from across sectors to celebrate the five inspiring primary schools that make up Ireland’s inaugural group of Changemaker Schools:

— Donabate-Portrane Educate Together NS, Donabate, Co. Dublin
— Francis Street CBS, The Liberties, Dublin 8
— Our Lady’s & St. Mochua’s PS, Derrynoose, Co. Armagh
— St. Columba’s GNS, Douglas, Co. Cork
— St. Oliver’s NS, Killarney, Co. Kerry

Held on the 11th floor of the Google Docks building in Dublin, the launch event brought this new network together for the first time, before kicking off a programme of speakers and discussion on the future of Irish education.

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The event featured keynote speeches by Founder of AsIAm Adam Harris and renowned author Roddy Doyle, followed by a panel discussion on ‘Re-Imagining Learning’. Facilitated by President of Dublin City University Brian MacCraith, the panel included Galway East TD Ciarán Cannon, President of St. Patrick’s College of Education Daire Keogh, former Special Advisor to Mary Robinson Bride Rosney, Future Voices student Nickole Borja and Co-Founder of Fighting Words Seán Love as speakers. Each of the five Changemaker Schools was awarded a plaque of recognition.

Read about some of the Changemaker Schools in this Irish Times article.

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Hear students, principals & teachers in Ireland’s Changemaker Schools speak about the creative ways that they nurture the skills of empathy, creativity, leadership and teamworkin their schools & communities.

Feel free to share the video link via email & social media!



Dublin City University (DCU) conferred an Honourary Doctorate degree on Ashoka Global Academy Member, Nobel Peace Prize Winner & Founder of Grameen Bank Muhammad Yunus at a special ceremony on Saturday, October 18th. As DCU is an Ashoka U Changemaker Campus, the event brought together several key members of the Ashokanetwork in Ireland.

President of DCU Professor Brian MacCraith and members of the Ashoka Ireland team planted a tree with Professor Yunus on campus, followed by a breakfast with students and principals from Ashoka Ireland’s Changemaker Schools, and an academic procession to mark the ceremony. Accepting the award, Professor Yunus spoke about the power of community in eradicating global poverty.

“I believe we can create a world without poverty… We can achieve a world where we have poverty museums, because being poor will be a thing of the past for everyone.”

- Muhammad Yunus

Watch Professor Yunus speak at the One Young World Summit in Dublin on October 18th.

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Ashoka Ireland Fellow Michael Kelly is the Founder of Grow It Yourself, a global network of people who grow their own food as a lever to greater wellbeing. GIY’s big idea is that the simple practice of growing and nurturing food can help people develop ‘food empathy,’ leading to healthier habits and lifestyles. Michael believes that many health, diet and environmental problems in the world can be traced back to a pattern of ‘food apathy,’ which GIY’s community-based activity aims to counteract. 

Recognising that people are more successful in their growing when they come together in groups to support each other and share tips, expertise and encouragement, GIY has now grown to over 800 GIY groups and projects in Ireland, Australia, UK and Africa with approximately 50,000 people involved in the movement each year. Michael recently described the simple and effective approach of GIY in Business & Leadership:

“Growing food seems to transform people’s lives pretty much regardless of how much they do it. It doesn’t have to be 16 acres in the countryside. The herbs and salad leaves on a balcony can lead to food empathy as well. That’s why GIY is so important.”
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The past six months have been very busy and exciting for the team at GIY. Here are just a few of their highlights!

Sow & Grow 2015: GIY’s school programme Sow & Grow in association with Innocent will be back in 2015 for the 4th year running and plans are underway to make next year’s campaign even bigger and better. The collaboration is well on track to hit the target of 100,000 primary school children growing their own food for the first time. Keep a close eye on the GIY website in the coming months for more information!

Diageo starts to GIY@Work: A team of ‘GIYers’ at Diageo’s St James’s Gate join other ‘GIY@Work’ companies such as Aramark, Eirgrid and the National Rehabilitation Hospital in starting a new direction for healthier living. At Diageo, over 100 employees volunteered to plant the ‘St. James’s Gate GIY Garden’. The GIY@Work programme provides companies with a garden and mentoring programme.  For more details please contact Ronan Douglas (!

GROW COOK EAT: October saw the launch of GIY’s new book ‘GROW COOK EAT’, written by Michael Kelly, and featuring recipes from over 35 of GIY’s favourite chefs and growers, including Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Darina Allen, Rachel Allen & Clodagh McKenna. A ground-breaking book for anyone seeking to develop a deeper understanding of food, it is a comprehensive guide to help readers bring abundant, delicious food from plot to plate. The book is available in many bookstores nation-wide and through GIY’s online shop.

GROW HQ Fundit Campaign: The team is delighted to report that they hit the target on their FundIt campaign for GROW HQ in September! The final total was €21,564 - a phenomenal result and one of the larger crowdfunding campaigns in Ireland this year. GROW HQ is a planned €1.5m food education centre with a grow school, cookery school, homegrown food café and shop on a 3 acre site donated by Waterford City Council. GROW HQ will open in 2015.

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— Fellow Mike Feerick’s organisation ALISON began offering a free course on Ebola prevention in September. The course, which can be accessed on a mobile phone, is aimed at people living in regions affected by the virus and there are assessments on how the virus can be transmitted and treated. Titled ‘Understanding the Ebola Virus and How You Can Avoid It’ it has been taken by over 10,000 people to date. The course’s success was widely covered in the media, including by the BBCthe Guardian and the Irish Times

ALISON are hiring! Find out more & apply through their website.

— Fellow Caroline Casey was featured as a guest speaker at One Young World, which was held in Dublin earlier this month. Caroline spoke in front of an audience of thousands about why the 1 billion disabled people represent the largest marginalised group in the world, and challenged young leaders to change the statistics. She was joined on stage by adventurer & author Mark Pollock, founder of AsIAm Adam Harris, former athlete & musician Niall Breslin, blogger Sinead Burke and speaker Joanne O’Riordan.

Watch their inspiring talk ‘Disability: Move to Include’ on Youtube.

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— Fellow Madeleine Clarke’s organisation Genio recently launched The Information Hub, a dedicated resource website bringing together publications, multimedia and events on the topics of disability, mental health and dementia. Genio also co-sponsored a new radio documentary, ‘WRAP Radio - Ireland’s Journey,’ produced by Victoria Enright on Newstalk. WRAP is the Wellness Recovery Action Programme and the documentary takes an inside look at how WRAP translates into Irish people’s everyday lives.

Visit Genio’s Information Hub to find out more about their research.

— Fellow Krystian Fikert spoke with Business & Leadership on World Mental Health Day (October 10th) about how his organisation MyMind’s partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim has helped them scale and improve their platform. Describing their partnership, Krystian explained why going ‘beyond CSR’ helps MyMind achieve their goals: “We want mental healthcare to be as normal as going to see a GP, and we’re not going to achieve that on our own.” MyMind also unveiled a new website earlier this year, making it even easier for clients to book appointments online.

Read Krystian’s interview on the B&L website.

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This is the autumn issue of the Ashoka Ireland quarterly newsletter. Feel free to share the link widely! Email Fiona at with photos, videos and announcements to be featured in the next quarterly, planned for this winter. 

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