President Michael D. Higgins celebrated 30 years of Gaisce – The President’s Award by presenting the gold award to over 60 young people in a ceremony held in Dublin Castle on Wednesday, 4th February.
The ceremony was attended by special guest and MC for the day Mary Kennedy. The achievements of Ireland’s young people, who have participated in the Gold award programme, were honoured by receiving the prestigious Gaisce Gold Medal by the President.
Ireland’s young people personally took on the President’s challenge and successfully completed activities which involved developing a personal skill, participating in a physical activity and volunteering in their community. The participants are also required to complete a four-day adventure journey, and a five-day residential project.
John Concannon, Chairman of Gaisce said: “2015 is a very special year for Gaisce as we celebrate 30 years of community engagement, volunteerism, and outstanding achievements by thousands of young people around Ireland. The commitment and dedication shown by these young people in completing months and years of physical activity, personal development and in particular community involvement is uplifting, inspirational, and a great example to us all. ”
More than 20,000 young people apply to do their Gaisce – President’s Award each year and since its establishment 30 years ago, over 300,000 have participated in the Gaisce award programme. In 2014, the Gaisce award participants invested over 10,000 hours to complete the personal, physical and community challenges.
CEO of Gaisce, Yvonne McKenna outlined Gaisce’s commitment to supporting young people by saying: “The Gaisce vision for Ireland is to have a country where young people can dream big and fulfill their potential. Our aim for the coming years is to expand the reach of Gaisce so that every young person has the opportunity to participate in the programme and realise their dreams and ambitions.”
The Gold Award ceremony is a chance to celebrate the achievements of Ireland’s young people who have participated in the award programme, and for their efforts to be recognised by the President of Ireland. The Award operates across the country in schools, colleges, youth organisations, the prisons, young traveller and special needs groups and with employers.
This year the President of Ireland will also award 11 young people from Northern Ireland who completed their award as part of the Joint Award initiative between Gaisce and The Duke of Edinburgh Award in the UK.
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Notes to Editor: This year’s Gold Awardees come from 20 counties including; Cork, Dublin, Laois, Carlow, Wexford, Sligo, Kildare, Kilkenny, Mayo, Tipperary, Galway, Wicklow, Longford, Donegal, Cavan, Clare, Waterford, Down, Antrim and Armagh
Some of the achievements completed by the awardees include;
– Residential projects in France with Scouts, Zambia with a school for children with disabilities, and all around Ireland helping young and elderly people
– Becoming Scout Leaders, charity involvement, and teaching skills to other young people
– Learning to new skills such as playing instruments, figure skating, languages and Red Cross life-saving skills
– Trips to Venice, Camino de Santiago, Japan, and the ever-treacherous Wicklow Way
– Cup and league-winning gaelic football teams, marathon-running, karate.
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