Participant Stories: Christopher Smith

Christopher is from Belfast but moved to Dublin four years ago to work with Citywise, an educational charity that he has been a member of since he was eight years old. Having completed his Masters in Education in NUI Maynooth, Christopher, looking for a new challenge, decided to do his Gold Gaisce Award, which he completed with guidance from his PAL, Jonathan Doyle.

For his Community Involvement, Christopher became a Gaisce PAL and organised meetings and events. In his workplace, he enrolled as a Gaisce PAL (President’s Award Leader) on a voluntary basis to assist young people in achieving their Bronze and Silver Awards. In this role, Christopher helped students to choose their activities and to organise classes and training – some students needed extra encouragement to continue filling in their hours and keeping up with the activities.

Christopher decided to take cooking classes for his Personal Skill  – a great opportunity for him to learn to cook new meals, he felt. Unfortunately the classes stopped and Christopher tried to find other cooking classes but they clashed with his schedule. In the search for a new skill, Christopher learnt computer coding, a skill he then passed on to the children he was teaching.

For his Physical Recreation, Christopher chose Tag Rugby after deciding that his original challenge of gym work was not for him. Tag Rugby was fast, physical and competitive and Christopher enjoyed playing as part of a team. His team got into the finals of the amateur league in the Bray Tagfest in August 2013 – one of highlights of Christopher’s challenge.

For his Adventure Journey, he chose to walk 116km of the Camino de Santiago. In the space of four weeks, Christopher and his friends had the trip planned and in the three weeks leading up to the walk, they undertook three hikes to prepare themselves. The walk lasted five days, with the group totalling a distance of 116km. Covering such a distance was  tricky, and sometimes painful – so Christopher was glad when they earned their stops.

For his Residential Project, Christopher travelled to Lourdes with the Clonard Monastery Lourdes Pilgrimages as part of the youth team, whose job was to care for the sick and elderly. This involved pushing wheelchairs, assisting people attending masses and ceremonies.


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