Limerick Garda Divisional Youth – Superintendent Brian Sugrue presents the Be Well Youth Advisory Panel with their group award.
Given to youths aged between 13 and 21, the Limerick Garda Divisional Youth Awards are designed to acknowledge the volunteering activities of young people
By I Love Limerick correspondent Ava O’Donoghue
The Limerick Garda Divisional Youth Awards 2022 took place on Wednesday, March 23 at the Woodlands House Hotel, Adare, honouring several young people and groups.
The awards, which are given to youths aged between 13 and 21 are designed to acknowledge the volunteering activities of young people and young people who have faced and overcome personal challenges in their lives.
Chief Superintendent Gerard Roche of the Limerick Garda Division hosted the gala dinner, which he said was held in recognition of all the wonderful achievements of the young people receiving awards.
The winners of this year’s Limerick Garda Divisional Youth Awards are Maria Campbell from Raheen, Clodagh Bennett from Rosbrien, Nikki Hayes from Ballylanders, Kian Hedderman from Keyes Park, and Aimee Walsh from Caherconlish and Jack Clifford from Kilmallock.
Among the recipients was Kian Heddernan, a 6th-year student at St. Clements College. Kian volunteers with young people in the Southill Hub, running a boxing programme and encouraging them to engage in a healthy lifestyle.
“A massive congratulations to student Kian Hedderman, who was presented with a Garda Youth Award this week,” commented St. Clements College. “To hear Kian speak about boxing is to hear what true passion sounds like. Well done from all here in St. Clement’s.”
During the summer, another award recipient, Crescent College Comprehensive student Maria Campbell mobilised students, parishioners, family and friends in Limerick to take part in a fundraising virtual walk of 12,532km, the distance from St John’s Castle Limerick and St Edmunds Secondary School in Zambia. She raised over €20,000 to fund the purchase and installation of a solar panel system for the school in Muchenje, Chibombo District in Zambia. This school in Zambia has no electricity therefore students were unable to do any evening or nighttime study. The school hall could not be used at night time, thus depriving the school and the wider community of a valuable resource. It is hoped that the money raised will go towards the installation of the energy system in this school in Zambia.
Clodagh Bennett from Rosbrien helps care for her three siblings with Special Needs. She puts every effort into caring for them, especially throughout the pandemic when her sister was hospitalised with Covid. Clodagh did all the chores, bathing, medication plans, bedtime and kept good routines for her siblings while keeping things real even though times were tough. During all of this, Clodagh completed her Leaving Cert and moved to 3rd level college. She continues to support and spend time with her three siblings. Clodagh was recognised as Munster Young Carer of the Year as well as receiving a Garda Divisional Youth Award.
Award winner Nikki Hayes, Ballylanders Scoil Pol, Kilfinane has overcome multiple personal health issues throughout her life. Nikki has Dwarfism and the resulting health difficulties have given her many struggles. Despite this, Nikki remains an extremely positive teenager, never complaining or looking for sympathy. She seeks solutions and through her massive determination, she takes part in everything from football to all school classes and nothing deters her from doing so. Nikki leads by example and inspires others. She has drive and a ‘never say not possible’ approach to life.
Aimee Walsh from Caherconlish is a talented musician and ‘sean-nos’ dancer. She came up with the idea of doing a ‘Flash Mob’ dance in the Crescent Shopping Centre. With the assistance of a local dance teacher, she organised 74 children to do an impromptu ‘Sean-nos’ dance in the shopping centre on a Saturday afternoon. The dance lasted for an hour entertaining staff and shoppers while raising €700 for Crumlin Children’s Hospital. Aimee is very proud of her community and is actively involved in G.A.A and a regular volunteer in the local community centre. She is a trained first responder and hopes to join the Red Cross. During the pandemic, she did some baking and delivered her decorated biscuits to her elderly neighbours bringing a smile to their faces.
Finally, Jack Clifford, Kilmallock, set up a voluntary response group in his home town in March 2020. Jack and his team regularly check in with elderly and vulnerable people in his town and if necessary do their shopping, pick up medication and do any odd jobs they might need help with. Even if they didn’t need anything Jack would visit for a chat while being mindful of the restrictions. This was acknowledged by President Michael D. Higgins and his good work was highlighted by National media.
The group winners are Foroige Abbyfeale, Foroige Newcastle West and the Are Well Youth Awareness Panel in Ballynanty.
The winners of the Garda Divisional Youth Awards are all prime examples of hardworking dedicated young people and groups who are willing to give up their free time to help and support others.
The first-ever Garda Divisional Youth Awards were created by a local Juvenile Liaison Officer in West Cork in 1995 after he noticed the tremendous efforts young people were doing in his area that deserved recognition. Since then, the awards have grown massively into what they are today, a way to celebrate and acknowledge the commendable work done by young people.
For more information on the Garda Divisional Youth Awards go HERE
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