10 Aug 2022

Glenswilly student among NUI Galway Gaisce Gold Medal awardees

" I think it so important to help families who are going through tough times"

Glenswilly student among NUI Galway Gaisce Gold Medal awardees

Ciara McDaid, right, with President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins and Yvonne McKenna, CEO of Gaisce

A Glenswilly student was among eight NUI Galway students and a special group of inspirational young people presented with the Gaisce Gold Award by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins recently for their civic engagement and personal development.

Ciara McDaid and her colleagues Catherine Mohan, Erin Shimizu, Jason Sherlock, Kirsty Moran, Odhran Wheelan, Sinéad Reidy, and Orla Masterson, volunteered hundreds of hours with a variety of nonprofit organisations including Ability West, SVP, Barretstown Childrens Camps, Tidy Towns and Childline, as well as undertaking student leadership roles working towards inclusion and diversity.

Commenting on the award Ciara said she wanted to challenge herself while being in university and knew this would encourage her to get involved in the community.

"I decided to do my residential project at Barretstown as I think it so important to help families who are going through tough times. Doing these camps had a big impact on me. For my community project, I volunteered with Best Buddies NUI Galway.

“The Best Buddies programme, in association with Ability West, aims to end the social, physical and economic isolation of people with intellectual disabilities.

"Through participation in the programme, young adults with intellectual disabilities are given the opportunity to share interests, activities and experiences that other people their age take for granted, such as going to the cinema or grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend.

"I have learnt many new skills and It helped me to get involved in society. I believe that I am now a stronger person because of this award.”

The CEO of Gaisce, Yvonne McKenna said Gaisce – The President’s Award is unique in the sense that it encourages young people to set their own personal development goals within a framework that allows them to achieve them and contribute to their communities in their own way.

“Every single day I am inspired by the courage, the energy and the commitment of young people doing their Gaisce Award, and I am so thrilled we are getting to celebrate the breadth of their achievements, from tackling global challenges like biodiversity to local supports for neighbours in need, young people are consistently pushing themselves for others.”

Gaisce – the President’s Award is a programme that aims to foster and develop young people's potential. It is a guided and supported framework that is provided for young people aged 14 -25 to explore their natural skills and gain confidence and wellbeing through participation in personal, physical and community challenges.

NUI Galway’s President’s Award Leader Lorraine Tansey added that throughout the pandemic students committed to undertaking the Gaisce award challenge in their communities volunteering and building their mental and physical health skills.

"We are inspired by the commitment students made and look forward to building on their leadership offering students continued civic learning opportunities with our university community partners,” she said.

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