Sarah Malone’s Bronze Gaisce Award Journey #GaisceStories
Hi, my name is Sarah Malone , I am 21 years old.
For the past 3 years I have attended Irish Wheelchair Association in Athlone as part of the School Leavers project. I have always been interested in Gaisce – The President’s Award since hearing about them in school. In fact I had registered for the Bronze award back in school but unfortunately didn’t get to complete it. At the beginning of 2022, I expressed my interest to Maureen, my support worker, that I would like to restart the Bronze Award as part of my personal goals. She supported me with my research and before long I was signed up and ready to go with Maureen as my PAL.
I would like to share with you my Bronze Gaisce Award experience and journey. The requirements needed for me to complete the Bronze Awards were:
- Community Involvement Activity: 13 weeks
- Personal Skill Activity: 13 weeks
- Physical Recreation Activity: 26 weeks
- Exploration: full day trip
I began my first set of activities on Tuesday 5th April and finished all by Tuesday 4th October 2022
For my Community Involvement Activity: I was the Administrator of Athlone Irish Wheelchair Association “Sunshine Club” which caters for children and young adults with physical and sensory disabilities. I have been a member of the Sunshine Club since I was 9 years old. I have made some great friends over the years which lead me to the youth services.
My responsibilities where to create:
- Monthly Sunshine Club Activity Pack
- Plan Sunshine Club Events
- Seasonal Greeting cards, Birthday Cards and Cover Letters
For my Personal Skill Activity: I love cooking but unfortunately it is not an option at home due to a small space for my wheelchair to get around. In the centre I choose some healthy eating recipes and shopped for the ingredients. I was able to take home what I cooked on the day for my parents to sample. This activity was also a life skill allowing independence.
For my Physical Recreation Activity: I played Boccia which very good for my hand and eye coordination and a good form of exercise for my body and mind. The Exercise Bike in our centre is designed to help people with limited mobility to exercise. For me it was an effective way to burn calories and body fat while strengthening my heart, lungs, and muscles. Of course, it was an effort to do the physical activity but well worth the benefits to set me up for the day.
For my Exploration to Portumna Castle and Gardens: For me this was my favourite part. First, I researched Portumna Castle and Garden to see how accessible it was. Although the Castle is not yet accessible for wheelchairs, I hope to return when OPW install a lift to access the inside of the castle. On the plus side the gardens and restaurant and facilities were fully accessible. I was able to explore the surrounding area and take amazing photographs of the nature it has to offer.
I am delighted to share with you that I have now registered to participate in the Silver Gaisce Award with Maureen as my mentor and Mary from Gaisce on hand to support us both. I am excited to experience new challenges on this part of my journey. I look forward to participating in an expedition this time with the support of my friends at I.W.A. In August we will travel to Lough Lannagh Village in Castlebar. I am excited as their cottages are fully accessible for my care needs. I will have ample space in the kitchen to try out some of cooking skills for my friends. This will enable me to have while having independence but most of all, FUN.
I look forward to completing my Silver Award and adding to my Bronze Award collection. With the right supports there is nothing stopping me from developing further and achieving my goals.