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Posted by Kinsale Advertiser on 21 September 2015

An 8-year old Kinsale student, Saoirse Hayes – a pupil at the local Scoil Naomh Eltin National School - has been judged to have submitted the most imaginative entry in a competition hosted by banana importers Fyffes, the theme of which was to challenge budding young architects to submit ideas showing how a conventional steel shipping container could be transformed to provide extra space within a school environment.
Launched last June as part of the introduction of Go Bananas - a free-to-download educational app designed to encourage healthy eating amongst children aged 7-10 years – the competition attracted entries from some 800 schools across the country out of which a shortlist of ten entries was chosen for final consideration.
Impressed by the overall standard of entries received, the interpretation which attracted most attention was that submitted by Saoirse – a work that Fyffes Ireland managing director Gerry Cunningham described as ‘a three-dimensional concept that so perfectly revealed the awareness, imagination, creativity and sense of caring that exists in the minds of young children’.
In her entry, Saoirse used text and artwork to illustrate and describe her concept for a ‘multi-sensory’ space, showing how a container could be adapted to become a self-contained study area. Conceived as a ‘learning space’ that might be used by the student body as a whole - or reconfigured and fitted out to cater for pupils with special educational needs – Saoirse’s concept was echoed in two other notable entries - one submitted by a student group from Athea N.S., Limerick (who also followed a ‘sensory room’ theme) and another from Laura Kerins (age 9) from Primrose Hill N.S., Celbridge whose entry was based on an Eco Garden theme. Other ideas received envisaged the modified container being used as a school kitchen, media room, games zone and library.
Commenting, Saoirse’s teacher Dara-Anne Neary said: “We are a brand new school here and the only thing we are lacking is a multi-sensory room”. Speaking on behalf of Saoirse’s father John and herself, her mother Mary said: “We were blown away when Saoirse’s teacher rang us with the news of her success”.
Mindful also of their commitment to engage the services of an architect who would interpret Saoirse’s idea and oversee the redesign of the container so that it might be accommodated and fit the space and educational needs of her school, Fyffes will now seek advice from her Principal to determine if, and how, this can best be achieved. In the event that space or other considerations would prevent its installation at Scoil Naomh Eltin, it will be offered in turn to other entrants.
The Go Bananas app, around which the competition was launched is one that tells the story of bananas – where they are grown, how they are harvested and ripened and brought to Ireland for sale in our shops. Created to tie in with lessons taught in school, its purpose is to fend off adult obesity by urging children to develop a healthy eating habit. It can be downloaded free on Android based tablets and iPads at www.freddyfyffes.ie/gobananas or via the Go Bananas App in the app stores.