A Clare teenager has been honoured with a Garda Youth Award.
The Garda Youth Awards, at Divisional and national level, celebrate outstanding young people aged between 13 and 21 years, and recognises the good work they are doing throughout their communities.
This year awards were presented to over 180 young people from Galway, Clare, Laois, Kerry, Dublin, Tipperary, Longford, Meath, Donegal, Kilkenny, Cork, Monaghan, Wexford, Limerick, Mayo, and Westmeath.
These young people have been acknowledged for making their communities a better place to live.
Jessica Whelan from Clare is one of those honoured in this year’s round of awards.
In December 2004, two year old Jessica Whelan lost the sight in her left eye in a tragic home accident while opening a Christmas present with her father.
Since then she has had 24 procedures under anaesthetic and has spent months in Temple Street Children’s Hospital attempt some of the collateral damage that was done to Jessica’s face in the accident.
Jessica is an incredible young person who has shown immense courage in facing up to a personal and family tragedy with such dignity and determination. Jessica has twin 12 year old brothers who are autistic; both have learning difficulties and are non-verbal. She has involved herself in school sports and other activities where possible. She completed graded Ballet exams, graded Drama exams and has done horse riding at gymkhanas.
Jessica is a constant support to her brothers and helps them at home with homework and is very supportive of them in very challenging social settings. She delivered a workshop on autism for siblings of children with autism.
In association with her brothers and Autism Ireland she organised a mobile phone collection; she hoped to collect 150 but, thanks to her efforts, a whopping 450 phones were donated. This event was held so that her twin brothers would be eligible to receive an iPad which would help them with their communication skills.