AWARD: Students from The Sem pictured with their award. From l-r were: James Smith, Fionn McCloskey, Rian Gill, Kacper Bogalecki, Colm Looney, Ethan Slattery, and Gearoid McGorrian. Photo: Michelle Crean

By Michelle Crean


Local students who won the Senior Climate Change category in the ECO-UNESCO’s Young Environmentalist Awards were delighted to receive their certificate, trophy, and €100 One4all voucher recently. The students from St Brendan’s College focused on the lack of awareness and action regarding climate change within their wider school community, and knew they had to do something about it.

As a result, a small group of got together with a common goal of making their school community one that is self-sustainable and climate-friendly, and officially established a climate action group called ‘The Self-Sustainable Sem’.

“With the support of the school’s management team, Ms Niamh Sheehy, and our peers, we embarked on a journey of making our school more climate-friendly and self-sustainable,” student Kacper Bogalecki told the Killarney Advertiser.

As part of their initiative, the group entered the ECO-UNESCO’s Young Environmentalist Awards.

“We were thrilled and honoured to hear that we had gone through to the ECO-Dens, to the semi-finals, the finals, and onto winning the Senior Climate Change Award.”


The group’s first action as the Self-Sustainable Sem was to organise a Climate Action Day in the wider school community.

“For this event, we had planned several activities in hopes of raising awareness about problems surrounding our climate. These included a no single-use plastic day, keynote speakers, a park clean-up, and a stand-up initiative. We began working on various smaller tasks and actions in order to achieve and contribute to our overall goal of making our school climate friendly and self-sustainable. Throughout this endeavour, we’ve implemented and worked on the following initiatives: a uniform-renewal scheme, a school-wide single-use plastic ban, a community garden for all the compost waste from our canteen, a new recycling system, an energy conservation initiative, an Instagram page for public awareness, as well as competing in the Friends of the Earth Ireland Solar Schools Competition where we topped the polls in the public vote in hopes of getting much needed solar panels for our school. Our climate action group has grown even stronger with this year’s Transition Year students continuing to work on the aforementioned initiatives making our school more climate-friendly and self-sustainable.”