An app for people living in hidden poverty, a community hub to support young men’s mental health and a school wildflower garden were just some of the winning concepts from the recent Big Idea programme.

The Big Idea is a 14-week programme delivered through the Leaving Cert Applied (LCA) and Transition Year (TY) programmes. The programme was delivered across 22 counties this year, with the help of over 350 industry mentors who give real-world advice to students. It also included an expanded pilot Youthreach and Community Training Centre (CTC) programme, as well as a successful pilot programme trialled in Northern Ireland.

Finding solutions

During the programme, students were tasked with working through the four Ds of the creative process – discover, define, develop and deliver – focusing on solutions for issues they identified as major stressors in their lives.

These were mental health, climate change, hidden poverty, displaced people, and diversity and inclusion, all aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). With the help of Big Idea mentors from a range of sectors, they developed a digital experience, product, service, space or place, or a tech solution to tackle that issue.

Powerful problem solvers

Team Community Cara from Borris Vocational School won the overall award having journeyed through the 14-week problem-solving programme, exploring the issue of hidden poverty and developing a solution with potential for real social impact. They developed an idea for an app to support people living in poverty in Ireland to connect with local support.

The Youthreach & CTC Climate Change winner was Team YR – Kilkenny Youthreach, who designed an app that would use augmented reality to educate primary school students about the impacts of climate change in their local environment.

The Youthreach & CTC Mental Health Award was won by Team HopOut from Tullamore Community Training Centre in Offaly, who proposed a community hub promoted by a drink’s coaster with a QR code to help support younger men with their mental health.

The Climate Change Award went to the Eco Activists from Scoil Bernadette in Cork, who delivered the idea of a wildflower garden at the school, which is a safe space for students and their hero Brian The Bee.

Students Clodagh Farrell, Abhainn Cody, Roisin Joyce and Aideen O’Keefe of Team Community Cara from Borris Vocational School in Carlow. The overall winners of the national creative thinking programme The Big Idea.

Sarah’s Strength won the Mental Health Award for St Patrick’s College Dungannon in Tyrone for the website It Takes Strength, which would support university students’ mental health and wellbeing by offering relevant information and peer-to-peer advice on topics such as financial worries or time management issues.

Team Immoderate at Mercy Secondary School in Ballymahon in Longford won the Hidden Poverty Award for their development of an idea for an app, Incognation, to build an online community and provide information, resources and support for people experiencing hidden poverty.

Borris Vocational School in Carlow had a second winner as Team Cabhrú wanted to develop a comprehensive multi-lingual website for the displaced people category to support refugees to Ireland and offer information on education, housing and employment, as well as a guide to help them settle in.

Meanwhile, Team The Bois at Meánscoil San Nioclás in Waterford won the Diversity and Inclusion Award for an inclusive mental health journal called Mind Bloggling, which supports the emotional wellbeing of young people from all backgrounds.

Teachers and tutors were also celebrated, as teacher Patricia Dunphy of Mercy Secondary School in Waterford was crowned TY/LCA/NI Creativity Champion, with a tutor at Tullamore Community Training Centre Lynsey McCabe winning the Youthreach and CTC Creativity Champion award.

The winners were selected by judges based on the recognition and celebration of their journey through the creative Big Idea process, in addition to their innovative and inspiring ideas which have the potential for real social impact.

Developing key skills

Founder and CEO of The Big Idea Kim Mackenzie-Doyle said:

“Students have learned transformative creative skills and thanks to the help of our industry mentors, they can continue to think big and use creative thinking to solve problems and develop solutions – whether in life, college or work.”

The winners, along with a selection of Big Ideas from the programme, will participate in a Big Idea accelerator in September.

The Big Exhibition, which includes every project submitted this year, is now live at, where schools and mentors can also sign up for the next term.

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