WEIGHTED backpacks designed to calm children with autism have won Clonakilty students an enterprise award.
Six students from Sacred Heart Clonakilty took the overall prize at the recent West Cork Student Enterprise finals for their idea.
Suaimhneas will now take their business, which creates weighted backpacks to calm the senses of children with autism to the regional finals to compete against the North Cork winners for a place at the Student Enterprise National finals in Croke Park in May.
The students have been working on their business since September in conjunction with professionals and therapists on creating their Suaimhneas backpack which contains concealed compartments for the insertion of weighted bean bags which can also be purchased separately. The idea for the backpack came from research which shows that added weight and pressure on the body can help mitigate the effects of an overstimulated sensory system with no such bag available for purchase in Ireland.
Jill Mortell said: ‘To take first place in the West Cork finals is a huge achievement as there were more than 25 other great teams who all deserved recognition on the day. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to represent West Cork and hopefully be chosen to represent the Cork North and West region at the national finals in May. We believe our business and this product can and will make a real and positive difference to those who use it.’
Other prize winners included Grip n’ Handle (second place) from Castletownbere Community School; Fudge Factory (third place), MICC, Dunmanway; Towels for Tots (Best Innovation), Sacred Heart Clonakilty; Lash out Lashes, (Best Social Media) Mount Saint Michael, Rosscarbery; Púróga, (Best Display), Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí and Stand up Speak Out, Castletownbere Community School.
Shauna Murphy was also awarded Entrepreneur of the Future for her business Crafty Pillows.
Kevin Curran, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Cork North and West said: ‘It is extremely encouraging to see the level of enthusiasm of the students at the end of a programme which has given them the invaluable opportunity to see for themselves what it takes to build and grow a business. I congratulate all the teachers and commend them for their hard work and dedication, and giving their students the opportunity to partake in the programme which teaches them lifelong lessons.’