Westmeath projects shortlisted for AONTAS STAR award

Awards season is underway and the shortlist is out for the AONTAS STAR Awards.

AONTAS (the national adult learning organisation ) coordinates the STAR Awards each year to celebrate high quality examples of adult education and training around Ireland.

Two initiatives in Westmeath have been shortlisted in the Leinster category.

The Second Half Initiative was developed by Active Retirement Ireland and addresses the subject of men’s mental and physical health. The initiative was piloted by Multyfarnham Active Retirement Association in north Westmeath.

The Monsignor McCarthy Family Resource Centre based in a local authority estate on the west side of Athlone has also been shortlisted. The centre offers a number of services to the local community including a men’s shed project, women’s groups, family support, community education projects, and a homework club amongst others.

Part of the judging process involves the shortlisted groups outlining their achievements to the judges at a series of panel meetings around the country. All of the projects have brought learners who have directly benefited from their services. “This element of the STAR Awards is really inspiring,” said a representative from the judging panel. “It really brings the work of the organisations to life and shows how people’s lives can be changed through learning.”

Competition for the awards is always high and this year is no different.

Speaking about the STAR Awards, AONTAS director Berni Brady said, “A number of changes are taking place in the adult, further education, and training sector with the recent establishment of SOLAS and the education and training boards. The STAR Awards is a real opportunity for us to highlight examples of what initiatives are successful in helping adults to progress onto employment, further education or to contribute to their own communities. This year we received 71 nominations for the awards.”

Winners of the awards in five categories (Connaught, Leinster, Munster, Ulster, and nationwide ) will be announced at the ceremony on Monday February 24. An independent judging panel including representatives from the ETBs, SOLAS, academia, and the community and voluntary sector was appointed by AONTAS to choose the winning projects.

For more information log on to www.adultlearnersfestival.com .

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