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DIT Students present at SPARK Student Social Enterprise Awards 2015

Posted: 11 June, 2015

Social Care Students Karina Murray and Abby Dunne represented DIT at the final of the 2015 SPARK Student Social Enterprise Awards.

Karina Murray and Abby Dunne at the final of the 2015 SPARK Awards

Their project “Commit to be Fit” was inspired by their 2nd year Social Care practice placement and aims to support people using homeless services in getting involved in group activities and exercise.  Panel judges Conor Hickey, Crosscare CEO and Fr. Peter Mc Verry, who have extensive experience in working with people who are homeless, complimented the project and pledged support for the implementation of “Commit to be Fit” through their respective services.

Members of the Judging Panel

Teams from five Institutes of Technology were represented at the finals, presenting innovative, social entrepreneurial solutions to a diverse range of issues.  The distinguished panel of judges included Fr. Peter McVerry (Peter McVerry Trust), Laura Dennehy (Enactus Ireland), Daniel Ramamoorthy (Entrepreneur), Ruairi Mc Kiernan (Social Innovator, Spunout.ie) and Conor Hickey (Crosscare) commented on the obvious passion and creativity of the student projects.  The awards were generously sponsored by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants Ireland (CPAI). 

This year’s winners were Mary Shanahan, Elaine Brew, Geraldine O Mahony from IT Tralee, for their innovative project idea aimed at promoting social and cultural integration by providing a restaurant with training activities and crèche facilities for women who are refugees in Ireland.

DIT 2014 finalist presents project at conference in Lisboa last month

DIT graduate Lisa Marie Clinton was last year’s DIT SPARK finalist and is continuing to develop her project Avail - a researched based, mobile enabled ELearning platform that promotes independence in employment for individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities.  Now as CEO of  Avail, she was invited to present this innovative technological solution at the European Union of Supported Employment Conference (EUSE) in Lisbon, Portugal, last month.

DIT lecturers in the School of Languages, Law and Social Science,  Judy Doyle and Anne Marie Shier have been instrumental in establishing the SPARK Awards and have encouraged and mentored DIT students to take part.  “Seeing Lisa Marie’s entry move out of project stage and become fully-fledged shows the potential of igniting the social entrepreneurship spark among students and we hope to see “Commit to be Fit” following that example.”