The Missionary Society of St Columban today announced the winners in their Schools Media Competition on the subject ‘Let’s create a world without racism’.
The two strands of the competition – articles and images – attracted almost 300 entries from nearly 100 schools.
They were judged by panels of media experts separately in Britain and Ireland, some with special expertise on the issue of racism. The 14-18-year-olds addressed the topical issue which resonates with Columban mission.
“The quality of entries blew me away and I was amazed at their energy and thoughtfulness,” said James Trewby, Columban Education Worker in Britain. “Discussion of overt and covert racism, structural challenges to micro-aggression, and images to force anyone to stop and think, brought passion, experience, and hope to an important issue,” he added.
William Scholes, the Irish News’ Religion Editor, commended the maturity of the writing and artwork of the winners. He also paid tribute to the students’ passionate care for the subject saying, “their longing that people should be seen as equals ‘no matter what colour of skin you have’ is real and poignant”. Personal testimonies had shown, “a window into how racism isn’t just an academic or theoretical issue, but a lived one which can have visceral consequences,” he said.
In Ireland, Ella Fleming of St Dominic’s Grammar School, Belfast, wrote the winning article. One judge described her piece as, “a fantastically brave article, beautifully written; really profoundly moving.” Another described it as, “a poignant piece, that draws attention to the dangers and impact on a life that experiences racism.”
Responding to the news of her success, Ella Fleming said, “I can’t put into words how grateful I am to receive this award from this amazing organisation. It is great to see people acknowledging racism and educating themselves on this topic. Hopefully more people will read these articles and see how serious racism is.”
Runners up were Conn Fyfe of St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena, and Victory Isijola of St Louis Secondary School, Dundalk, Co Louth.
Responding to the news, Conn Fyfe said it was “a pleasure to take part in this competition on such an important issue. The past year has highlighted the ubiquity of racism in society and the pressing need for a solution. The COVID-19 pandemic has placed all of our lives on hold and similarly, the pandemic of racism continues to divide us.”
Victory Isijola told www.columbans.ie, “I’m so thankful to have received award from this amazing organisation. It is great to see that our voices are finally being acknowledged and hopefully, with time, patience and empathy, we truly will create a world without racism.”
Emily Grimes of St Oliver’s Community College, Drogheda won first prize in the images section. Her artwork was judged to have been a “very simple but effective image that showed a lot of originality and technique.”
Responding to news of her success, Emily Grimes said she was “delighted and grateful to receive this award. It focused on a problem that must no longer be accepted or ignored. I am proud that I was able to capture this in my image.”
Runners up were Caoimhe Collins of Ballincollig, Co Cork, and Caragh Cochrane of St Louis Grammar School, Ballymena.
Caoimhe Collins commented, “I am absolutely delighted to be a runner up in this competition. I really enjoyed taking part.”
Caragh Cochrane told Columbans.ie, “I am so delighted to have taken part in this competition with such an important subject. Competitions like this really help to spread awareness especially for younger generations.”
The competition results have been released in the lead up to the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March 2021.
The full list of winners and judges can be seen at: http://www.columbancompetition.com/
Former Columban competitions have focused on Climate Change, Migration and ‘Tackling our throwaway culture’.
Over the coming weeks, the winning articles and images will be published on www.columbans.ie as well as in the Far East magazine.
With thanks to everyone who entered. The judges paid tribute to the excellent quality of the entries, the passion for the subject, and they said this made it difficult to choose winners out of so many thoughtful and thought-provoking entries.