Youth charity hopes to inspire students with new youth leadership award and create "a generation of role models".

Raising & Giving Ireland (RAG) has launched The Raggies, a new national youth leadership awards to celebrate a generation of new leaders.

During the year, over 2,000 RAG members across Ireland raise funds on campus that are then used for social projects in their local communities. The Raggies are a way to recognise the extraordinary efforts of these students.

The awards are broken up in the sections: Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Governance & Transparency, Events & Communications, Leadership & Management and Volunteering & Fundraising.

RAG co-founder and Chief Recovering Degenerate Daithí de Buitléir said: “Our generation needs role models, we need to move away from cult of personality, I always found my best role models were people my age who I knew – by recognising ordinary students who do extraordinary things we know we can demonstrate to our peer group that getting stuck in to solving social problems is very accessible to them."

The national awards ceremony will take place in April 2014 and will recognise 30 of Ireland’s outstanding third level students.

The scheme was launched in the US Embassy last week with an inquiring panel discussion entitled “Role Models for Generation Y” to inspire conversation and debate.

Contributors to the discussion were Dublin’s Lord Mayor Oisín Quinn, leading entrepreneur Tom Keogh and social activist Sinéad Kane along with 3 student members of RAG Ireland; Niamh Breathnach of DCU RAG, Ruadhán Ó Feinneadha of Marino RAG and Gráinne Rice of St. Pat’s RAG. The event was moderated by leading RTÉ newscaster Brian Dobson.

Lord Mayor of Dublin Oisín Quinn, who spoke at the launch, said: “In a time of youth unemployment and emigration it is of vital importance to take the time out to recognise the enormous potential of the youth of today. We need to ask ourselves how we can support our young people to build a brighter future for Ireland. It is great to see student-led initiatives like the Raggies shaping and stimulating this discourse."

The Raggies award ceremony will take place in April 2014.