Drogheda’s Young Innovators beat memory loss by using music

On Friday, 17th May, the Drogheda Young Innovators (DYI) Competition Final for secondary school students took place at Coca-Cola International Services offices in Southgate Shopping Centre. Fifteen shortlisted projects were reviewed in detail by the judges from Coca-Cola International Services, Fitz Scientific, State Street, and The Mill Enterprise Hub. The overall winners were a team from St Mary’s Diocesan school who impressed judges with their social enterprise project, “Music and Memory”.

The overall winners of the 2019 Drogheda Young Innovators competition were (from left): Seb Lennon, Matthew Weir, Callum Agnew and Keith Woods from St. Marty’s Diocesan School for their project called Music and Memory which helps people suffering from dementia. Photo: Andy Spearman.

Prizes were also awarded in each of the three categories (Science/Technology, Business, and Social Enterprise) for both individual and team entries. This is the sixth year of the awards which focus on all aspects of Innovation, and has become an integral part of the local school curriculum. Organised by a voluntary group of local business leaders, teachers, and The Mill Enterprise Hub, the competition challenges Drogheda’s students to think about an innovating career in science, social enterprise, or business. This year also saw applications from Phase Innovate, a Not for profit Organisation that provides technology entrepreneurship education for the underrepresented communities in tech through hands on training and structured mentoring system.

Over the course of the competition, the winning students from “Music and Memory” visited patients with Alzheimer Disease in Tredagh Lodge Day Care Centre in Drogheda and St Mary’s Nursing Home, and created personalised music playlists for each patient in order to demonstrate the ability of music to combat memory loss and restore a self to those suffering from above disease and dementia. The judges were extremely impressed that the community of Drogheda got behind this initiative by donating unwanted CDs, MP3 players and money through a Go Fund Me page. The Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland officially recognised “Music and Memory” when their CEO interviewed students on LMFM radio station.

According to Breanndán Casey, BDM of The Mill Enterprise, “The Music and Memory project has been a great success and the students are now working with twelve other schools to roll out the concept across the country. This competition has gone from strength to strength each year, and with 65% of applications in the Social Enterprise category, we can see the level of interest from local teenagers in topics like mental health, environment and recycling, which is very inspiring, to say at least. We work with our partners State Street, Coca-Cola International Services, East Coast Bakehouse, and Fitz Scientific to visit all nine schools in the region to highlight the innovation that is currently occurring locally, and to ensure that students have an opportunity to flex their creative muscles”.

“It was great to have the diverse range of ideas this year, and more importantly, to see how the students have worked on their ideas over the past three months”, said Anna Keller of Coca-Cola International Services, “We also had 60 students attend a Workshop at The Mill in April which gave students an opportunity to work on their projects and receive real feedback from students and judges. It was great to see last year’s Business category winner, ‘Makes Cents’ from Sacred Heart school return to give an inspiring talk on how they recently launched their teenage prepaid card with support form Prepaid Financial Services in Navan ”.

During the final, Julie Plunkett of Coca-Cola International Services launched their 2019 “Thank You Fund” which offers €100,000 of support for inspirational youth projects across Ireland. Grants of €5,000, €10,000 and €30,000 will be awarded to the winning projects. The Coca-Cola Thank You Fund has supported projects including community, social and education programmes aimed at youth, healthy and active lifestyles, and environmental leadership. To date €955,000 has been given to 83 non-profit organisations across the island of Ireland.

 The 2019 winners Drogheda Young Innovators who received their certificates and cash prizes included:

  • “Music and Memory” – Overall winner of DYI 2019, St Mary’s Diocesan School
  • “Breagain”– Business Group Category, Ballymakenny College
  • “Randomly Marbled” – Business Individual Category, Drogheda Grammar School
  • “Live My Life” – Social Enterprise Group Category, Phase Innovate
  • “Music and Memory” – Social Enterprise Group Category, St Mary’s Diocesan School
  • “Lives without imagery” – Science Individual Category, Our Lady’s College, Greenhills.
  • “Mathematical sequences” – Science Individual Category, Our Lady’s College, Greenhills.
The overall winners of the 2019 Drogheda Young Innovators competition were: Seb Lennon, Matthew Weir, Callum Agnew and Keith Woods from St. Mary’s Diocesan School for their project called Music and Memory. They’re pictured with the judges and organisers of the competition. Photo: Andy Spearman.