The Aldi Foróige Youth Citizenship Awards took place in Citywest Hotel and Conference Centre recently where over 2300 young people from throughout Ireland showcased their work in the community. 204 groups took part in the awards with projects covering topics such as equality; homelessness; mental health; culture and much more.
Ardagh Foróige Club won a silver star award for their project helping the local hospital; and Mayo Comhairle na nÓg won a bronze star award for making a website to connect young people with potential employers.
The Ardagh Forógie groups project identified key needs at a local hospital after organising a series of visits there. As well as giving lonely patients gifts for Christmas, they also raised funds through a raffle and 'bed push' event to fully equip family rooms with furniture and catering facilities. On evaluation the young people expressed great pride at helping to improve the lives of those in hospital and they also recognised its importance.
The MayoComhairle na nÓg project identified the need for more meaningful work experience for young people after hosting their annual AGM. After gaining consensus on focusing on this issue the group decided to make a website linking young people to potential employers. This process included researching suitable web platforms and using the technical ability of the members to link it in with social media. The young people were at the centre of organising the ins and outs of the website including video production, web design, information research and online promotion.
Sean Campbell, CEO of Foróige said “with the support of Aldi the Youth Citizenship Programme has gone from strength to strength. This programme empowers young people to make positive change in the world through examining their local community, coming up with a way to make it a better place and then working hard to make it happen.
“We are so proud of everything these young people have achieved in their communities and it’s wonderful to see all the skills they’ve gathered in the process. From planting a flowerbed, to renovating a community kitchen, to building a recording studio and making a memorial from a WWII aeroplane; these young people have gained essential life skills whilst making the world a better place.
Fourteen projects were submitted from Mayo the other 12 projects were:
Foróige TechSpace, Castlebar NYP
Having contacted those responsible for welcoming and supporting Syrian refugees relocating to Ireland, the young people from the Foróige TechSpace in Castlebar decided to create a welcome video to ensure as smooth a transition to the community as possible. The group sought advice and support from translators and young Syrian refugees already in the area to subtitle the film. The group's film showed a genuine welcome and covered the basic information necessary for anyone moving to the area.
Ballina NYP Juniors
After a discussion within the group, these young people realised that some of them found it hard to make friends and this is really important when moving into secondary school. The group discussed their feelings, created artwork for their room, learned how to pay compliments and talked about all aspects of friendship. They learnt that others experience the same feelings as them, it’s not nice to leave anyone out and that having a few really good friends is important.
Swinford Foróige Juniors and Swinford TY Foróige Club
The Swinford Foróige Juniors were approached by the local ladies GAA Club who were looking for assistance raising funds for a trip to New York. The group organised a disco to contribute towards the cost. They got support from the older Foróige club and other members of the community to secure a tuck shop and DJ. The group are discussing making the disco an annual event to continue raising funds for groups in the community that need additional financial support.
Swinford TY Foróige Club
Swinford Tidy Towns approached the Swinford TY Group seeking help in planting 2000 daffodil bulbs for Daffodil Day. The daffodils were being planted to be sold in aid of the Irish Cancer Society. The group’s goal was to become more involved with their community. Following their support of the Tidy Towns Committee the group were asked to help with cleaning the church for Christmas, become involved in the litter pick on Good Friday and help the running of the Easter Egg hunt on Easter Sunday.
Bonniconlon Foróige Club
Having been approached to help plan a local Senior Citizen's Christmas Party, the group felt that they wanted to continue to contribute to their community. The young people decided to get involved in as many activities in the area as they could, and offered to help with the Christmas nativity play, and with the local 5K. They learned a huge amount about teamwork and communication, and also realised that they enjoyed contributing to their community. They plan to continue the project, and hope to organise a fundraiser, help the Tidy Town's committee, and volunteer at the local agricultural show.
Teen Scene @ Ballina NYP
This group focused on Mental Health but were also aware of physical health and the positive benefits it can have on mental health so they combined the two together and are doing the 5k Darkness into Light walk for Pieta House. They are creating a huge canvas banner for the walk. They have also invited another group for a stay awake that night for their social health.
Tourmakeady Foróige Club
The local GAA club approached Tourmakeady Foróige Club to assist in raising funds for the new sports hall. The group developed a website and social media page where people could purchase blocks to help fund the construction. Others sold blocks directly after Mass to ensure the local people could become involved. Through their efforts, Tourmakeady Foróige has raised over €1,000 for the development of the new sports hall.
Islandeady Senior Foróige Club
Islandeady Foróige Club had a talk from the Council Environmental Officer emphasising the issue of litter. The group had previously participated in litter picking in the community and were acutely aware of the issue. The Environmental Officer advised the group of an anti-litter grant scheme that could support anti-litter promotion. The group designed an animated character to be the face of their video and selected songs which would grab the attention of people. They created a youtube channel, uploaded their video and promoted it widely through social media.
Louisburgh Foróige Club
The Louisburgh Foróige Club were appreciative of the number of volunteers and volunteer organisations in their community that do incredible work. The group wanted to inspire other young people in the community to volunteer and engage with these organisations. The group reported broken street lights to their county council, the were introduced to the inner workings of the Order of Malta, they discussed with the Twinning Committee about participating in exchanges and they interviewed volunteers within Foróige. The group developed a deep appreciation of the volunteers in their community and established relationships with other organisations that they now have a symbiotic relationship with.
CYPAC North Mayo - Research Group
The young people involved in CYPAC North Mayo Research Group reviewed the ways in which TUSLA distribute their information and the information itself to ensure that it was reaching young people and being as effective as possible. The group developed a questionnaire consisting of open and closed ended questions and printed 250 copies of the questionnaire. They received 248 completed questionnaires and used the date to determine statistics relating to young people and their approach to self-safety, TUSLA and receiving information.
Brickens Foróige Club
Having supported many local charities over the years, the members of Brickens Foróige Club decided to fundraise for Mayo SPCA. The young people invited representatives of the charity to speak to them so that they could learn about the issues they face. They decided to organise a Duck Race, and community Fun Day, to raise money for the organisation. In preparation for the event, the young people also carried out a river clean up. A big crowd attended the event, which also featured face painting and a colouring corner. They raised over €1000 for Mayo SPCA, and some of the young people hope to volunteer with the charity during the summer.
Fiona noticed that her local graveyard would benefit from a clean-up, and that there was no seating available to visitors. She spoke to the graveyard's caretaker about the best way to approach her project. Fiona carried out the clean-up over several days, and contacted local man John Donnellan about building a bench. She secured donations from the community to pay for its construction, and the bench was unveiled to during an annual Mass in the graveyard. Fiona says that her community have been very supportive, and the project she has given her a massive sense of achievement.