Inspirational young people from around County Clare were today honoured for their “selflessness, volunteerism and a generosity of spirit” as the winners of the 6th annual Clare Garda Youth Awards were unveiled.
Three individuals and one group were recognised for the civic and personal spirit they displayed in helping others and overcoming challenges.
The awards, organised by the Clare Garda Division and sponsored by Shannon Group, seek to identify inspirational young leaders in recognition of their voluntary community work and personal achievements. All award nominees and winners are aged between 14 and 19 years.
This year’s winners were recognised for a wide variety of voluntary work, among these, delivering virtual summer camps to young people and hosting digital events for children with special needs; overcoming personal challenges to coach young sports club members; helping provide translation services for community members unable to speak English; involvement in projects tackling discrimination, environmental issues and promoting positive mental health.
Congratulating the winners, Mary Considine CEO, Shannon Group said: “This is our sixth year sponsoring the awards and Shannon Group is once again delighted to support this wonderful initiative. Since their inception the awards have highlighted some inspirational young Clare people who have displayed selflessness, volunteerism and a generosity of spirit. This year’s award winners are no exception. All are inspirational leaders who have not only gone over and above to support their local communities but served as an inspiration for others to follow.
Said Superintendent John Ryan: “There are a lot of pressures on young people today, not least the pressure from social media, and to conform and to be popular. Initiating these awards was done to give them a break from that by providing an outlet to encourage them to get involved in offline rather than online life more. This year’s winners have shown great individuality and community spirit, all the more remarkable given that they are living through a pandemic. They will go on to be community leaders of tomorrow and will have gained personally from the experience.”
The 2021 Clare Garda Youth Award winners are:
Group Winner: Clare Youth Service Shannon Leadership Programme – Elise Casey age 17 from Shannon and Méabh O’ Grady age 16 from Newmarket-on-Fergus.
Special Achievement Award: Robbie Crowe (19), from Lahinch.
Individual Award: Yaqoob Shinawari (17), originally from Afghanistan, now living in Lisdoonvarna.
Individual Award: Caithlin Griffin (17) from Carron.
Citations for the 2021 Winners
Clare Youth Service Shannon Leadership Programme
Name of Winners: Elise Casey (17) from Shannon and Méabh O’ Grady (16) from Newmarket-On-Fergus:
Name of Nominator: Thomas O’ Hara (Clare Youth Service Shannon)
During Covid Restrictions in June 2020 Elise and Meabh within a wider group delivered a virtual summer camp to young people who could not take part in in-person camps. They took on various training in creative digital media to film and edit instructional videos for children. Many hours went into the work of creating Summer Camp website Clareyouthservice.wordpress.com. This group was awarded a digital first responder award at Techfest 2020.
At Christmas 2020 they worked with another group to help host a Zoom Christmas Party for children in S Club (Youth Club for children with Special Needs).
In January 2021 they created a home activity pack with all the equipment needed to do the activities, that would otherwise have been done in Camp. Over 20 packs went out to children in Shannon and Ennis, this was deeply appreciated by parents.
In May and June, they worked together to plan an In-Person Camp for 7 – 12-year-olds within all the Covid guidelines.
Where many would have just focused on getting through the pandemic these two young people put their hands up to get involved in something new and completely unknown. Their work made a huge difference to a child at home or even a parent who needed something to see them through an hour.
Meabh and Elise their journey started in June 2020 as willing participants and ended with them as a driving force as leaders in June 2021
Name of Nominator: Neville Fitzpatrick (CBS Ennistymon)
Robbie is 19 years old and lives in Lahinch. He was born with the condition (Noonan Syndrome- genetic disorder). He started Ennistymon CBS in 2014 and completed his Leaving Certificate this year.
Robbie was born with a condition known as Noonan Syndrome. He has had many operations and attends hospital in Dublin every few months for some of his symptoms that go with the condition. This never hampered his ability to impact many with his character, love of Football. He was always the first student to be involved in setting up of Soccer Blitz’s. He became the manager of the 1st years Futsal Team for two consecutive years.
Robbie coaches younger members of the Sporting Ennistymon Club and helps with coaching drills during the soccer camps. Robbie is humble in the work he carries out and he is a huge inspiration to younger children. Robbie shows other young people that everything is achievable, he promotes acceptance and doesn’t let his illness define him.
Name of Nominator: Megan White (Direct Provision Centre – King Thomond Hotel, Lisdoonvarna)
Yaqoob is 17 years old and originally from Afghanistan. He came to Ireland with his older brother only over 2 years ago. He arrived in Lisdoonvarna in March 2020 just at the start of Lockdown. He is now in 5th year in school and is doing well.
Yaqoob has been an inspiration to so many teenagers living in King Thomond Direct Provision. He is actively involved in sports and started a small cricket game amongst the other residents. He helps out other residents who are unable to speak English. He is such a positive young man and is always willing to help the younger residents. He worked hard in learning English, and it paid off when he got a summer job. He is a true inspiration as to what hard work can achieve. Since coming to Ireland only over 2 years ago, he has learned English, enrolled in Secondary School and got a summer job.
Name of Nominator: Brian McManus (Clare youth Service) & Emma Sams (North West Clare Family Resource Centre – Ennistymon)
Caithlin is 17 years old and lives in Carron. Caithlin herself says she struggled in her early years but participating in the community has helped her now be a positive role model for her peers.
Caithlin is a very strong member of both Clare Youth Action and Clare Comhairle na nOg. She has been active at both County Level and also part of the National Executive. She has been involved in projects making a difference in the areas of discrimination, environmental issues and promoting positive mental health.
During Covid the group moved to support young and old, promoting accurate messaging and sending care packs. She has been involved in the design and delivery of the Comhairle AGM which switched to online in 2020 with over 90 teenagers involved in positive mental health workshops and consultations. Caithlin also helped train younger GAA players in her home village, giving many hours of her time.