The winning team. left to right: Mrs Muriel MacKenzie (RME teacher), Lia MacDoanld, Jessica MacDonald, Calina MacKenzie, Shannah MacKay, Leah MacKay, Ellie MacIver and Mr Richard Fraser (RME teacher)

The Nicolson Institute held its third annual Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) final on Tuesday 6th December. 

As part of the Religious and Moral Education course all S5 pupils were involved with YPI (Youth and Philanthropy Initiative) this year. 

The finals featured seven teams whittled down from an initial 25 participating groups.  Each group had to choose a local charity and compete against one another to win a £3000 prize.  The competition was judged by Councillor Catriona Stewart (Chair of Education), Councillor Zena Stewart (former Depute Rector) and Mr Donald MacLeod (Senior Education Officer).

At the beginning of this competition the entire S5 – more than150 Pupils – were involved and 15 different local charities were represented.  By the time of last week’s final, there were two groups representing Alzheimer Scotland, two groups representing the RNLI, two groups representing Hebridean Men’s Cancer Support and one group representing Western Isles Women’s Cancer Support.

The finalists produced very convincing cases for their charities and used a variety of different media.  There were videos, PowerPoint presentations and even a short play. 

In the end the winners were Leah MacKay, Jessica MacDonald, Lia MacDonald, Shannah MacKay and Ellie MacIver who made an outstanding video presentation about their engagement with Alzheimer Scotland.  The girls became heavily involved with the local branch of the charity.  They helped to run a coffee morning that raised more than £400.  They’ve spent time with service users at the day centre in Stornoway where they ran a T-shirt designing activity.  They also entertained service users and volunteers with a display of Highland dancing.

Marion Macinnes was at the YPI final representing Alzheimer Scotland Lewis and Harris and was delighted that the charity will now benefit from the £3000 prize.  She said: “The girls are now part of the team and we’re not letting them go!”

Commenting later on Facebook she said: "An amazing achievement…we are most grateful at Alzheimer Scotland Lewis and Harris. The girls are a credit to their family, school and community."

Calum MacSween, the Regional YPI Lead, was at the final also and had the £3000 cheque at the ready.  YPI is backed by the Wood Foundation in Aberdeen.  Calum said he was very impressed with the winners. “The winning team would have been contenders for first place in any final I've ever seen - the other teams should feel no shame in being runners up to such a committed and well-prepared team.  It'll be interesting to see how they continue their involvement with Alzheimer’s locally.’
The girls have already persuaded the local Co-op to donate a hamper of goods that they will be raffling for the local branch of Alzheimer Scotland this month.

This is the beginning of a long and meaningful involvement between the pupils involved and the local charities.  The main purpose of YPI is to encourage engagement of young people with charitable causes and to raise the profile of worthy causes in the community and amongst the youngsters.

The winning team will travel to Perth in June 2017, accompanied by teachers Mr Richard Fraser and Mrs Muriel MacKenzie of the RME department who helped Depute Rector Jack Bain to organise the event.  In Perth they will participate in a YPI showcase along with the winners from schools all over Scotland.

The school says that this year’s final was a great success and without Mr Bain’s strategic planning and Miss Kathleen MacDonald’s technical support it would not have been the success that it was.

The finalists, judges, charity representatives and some of the teaching staff involved in the YPI final.