Stu­dents tackle tough is­sues in jus­tice group

Wexford People - - NEWS - BY ANNA HAYES

THE CIVIC minded stu­dents at the Loreto Sec­ondary School are mak­ing their voices heard on the is­sue of home­less­ness through their Jus­tice and Peace group, who have un­der­taken an aware­ness-rais­ing project on the sub­ject.

The group, which has about 15 stu­dent mem­bers, has pre­pared a dis­play out­lin­ing the facts and fig­ures of home­less­ness in Ire­land but three of the sixth years in­volved with the group say that they were mind­ful of the fact that home­less­ness was not al­ways ‘house­less­ness’.

Clodagh Wil­son, Sinead Rafter and Beth Pow­ell said they wanted to raise the is­sue now, rather than in the run-up to Christ­mas as they feared the mes­sage would be di­luted by that.

They pointed out that over 3,000 stu­dents in Ire­land were liv­ing in ho­tel rooms, putting it into per­spec­tive by ex­plain­ing that this was the en­tire stu­dent body of the five Wex­ford town sec­ondary schools.

‘We can only imag­ine how hor­ri­ble a sit­u­a­tion this must be for stu­dents, try­ing to live and study in a ho­tel room. There are sta­tis­tics show­ing that tod­dlers are not learn­ing ba­sic mo­tor skills be­cause they are cramped into small rooms.’

The girls have also started a pe­ti­tion that will be read out in the Seanad by Sen­a­tor Lynn Ruane, who one of the stu­dents had a con­tact for. They also in­tend to cir­cu­late the pe­ti­tion fur­ther among lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives to see if they can give any as­sis­tance.

The pe­ti­tion had hun­dreds of sig­na­tures prior to the midterm break and the girls planned to send it out to the other Wex­ford schools for their sup­port.

The Jus­tice and Peace group has been a fix­ture in the school for a long time, car­ry­ing out work for var­i­ous char­i­ties and causes.

Last year, they raised money for the Si­mon Com­mu­nity, as well as hold­ing an ‘Un­der­wear for the Un­der­priv­i­leged’ cam­paign.

They have also pre­vi­ously held ‘Clothes for Calais’ and ‘Walk for Wa­ter’ events. Made up of fourth, fifth and sixth year stu­dents, they meet once a week and be­cause of the ever-chang­ing mem­ber­ship of the group, wel­come lots of new per­spec­tives each year.

The group is in­volved in a num­ber of is­sues that are com­ing up. They are help­ing with the or­gan­i­sa­tion of a Cul­tural Ap­pre­ci­a­tion week which will cel­e­brate the many dif­fer­ent back­grounds of stu­dents in the school.

The girls moved into the new Loreto Sec­ondary School in Septem­ber of this year, af­ter much un­cer­tainty fol­low­ing the col­lapse of Car­il­lion, one of the main play­ers in the school build­ing con­tract.

As a re­sult of this, sub­con­trac­tors who worked on the school were left out of pocket and the girls were adamant that they wanted to find a way to sup­port them.

‘Some of the sub­con­trac­tors have girls in the school here. We are in the build­ing and we are glad to be here but we do plan to have some kind of aware­ness cam­paign to bring their strug­gle back into the me­dia. We fully sup­port them and will do any­thing we can to show that sup­port.’

The Loreto Jus­tice and Peace Group with their dis­play in the school.

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