President’s Award Leader Spotlight: Frieda Bent #GaisceStories
Where are you a President’s Award Leader, and what do you do there?
KARE is an organisation based in counties, Kildare, West Wicklow and Offaly, that provides service and supports for people with intellectual disabilities and their families. It was founded in 1967 by a group or parents and friends of children with intellectual disabilities who set out to ensure that they could live at home with their families and be educated locally.
We now have a wide range of community based supports available to children and adults with an intellectual disability, including day, residential and short break services.
I am working in adult services in KARE for over 20 years now, mostly in adult education and Advocacy work.
What motivated you to be become a President’s Award Leader?
I heard about Gaisce from a friend working in mainstream education and immediately was struck by the thought, ‘Why aren’t our guys doing this!’.
When I looked into it, I discovered that KARE would not be the first disability organisation to get involved with the Gaisce programme.
Marion from Gaisce came to deliver our first PAL training way back in 2011 and could not have been more encouraging or helpful! Thus began the start of a long and wonderful collaboration with Gaisce!
What skills have you developed or learned while being a President’s Award Leader?
I have learned to think outside the box and have been able to use my own creativity in a different way to working in a classroom 😊 I have learned that when given the opportunity, people can achieve amazing things. It really is about creating opportunities for people to have new experiences and to challenge themselves.
What are some of your memorable experiences being a President’s Award Leader?
There are so many! Our first Adventure Journey to Glendalough will always stand out for me though. For a lot of our participants, it was their first time away from their families and their first time in the Wicklow hills. The sense of achievement they got when we walked the Spinc was lovely to see and the fun when staying in the hostel 😊
The day that people receive their medals is always a special occasion for everyone involved, when people get dressed up and then we go for a celebratory lunch afterwards 😊
What does being a President’s Award Leader for young people with additional needs mean to you?
It is one of the parts of my job that I am most proud of and have the most positive experiences with. I get to spend time with people in a different capacity and we have such fun together!
Gaisce gives young people an opportunity to volunteer, what do you think your participants gain from this?
We have seen how people have been able to show who there are within community settings, where they are not the ones being ‘helped’ but rather been able to show who they are.
People have given their time to support animal shelters, local libraries, tidy towns groups & churches.
It’s hard for me to speak to people’s personal experience of volunteering in their communities, but I can speak to the experience of those they’ve helped. I think it is fair to say that it is the communities who get the most from it, as they get the time and dedication and enthusiasm of the young people we work with.
We even had a beautiful letter a few years ago, from the daughter of a gentleman who was visited in his nursing home on a weekly basis by one of our Gaisce participants. After her father had passed away, she wrote to let us know how much those visits had meant to her father.
There is nothing better than knowing that a young person has made a positive impact on someone’s life.