Selfless students nominated for top young volunteer award

SIX Cork students are in the running for the title of Ireland’s top young volunteer.

At an awards ceremony in the city next month, two of the 20 shortlisted finalists will be named All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year.

Among them are six teenagers from Cork whose work in their communities and overseas has already hugely impressed the judges for the Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards.

Seoighe Kearney celebrated her nomination with classmates yesterday at Davis College in Mallow, where she received a certificate of achievement to mark the honour. The 17-year-old joined the Niall Mellon Trust, which builds homes for shanty dwellers in South Africa, raising €10,000 to get there. She had previous experience of fundraising for the ISPCA and the Irish Cancer Society and has volunteered as an invalid helper in Lourdes.

Another north Cork girl, Karina Cronin’s use of her singing and dancing talents to entertain elderly neighbours has also earned her a place in the final 20. The 15-year-old from Ballydesmond, a student of Scoil Phobail, Rathmore, Co Kerry, is a member of her local Social Action Group, in which she has inspired more than 40 members to join in recent months.

Aoife O’Regan, a fifth year student at Clonakilty Community College, has headed a campaign to set up a youth café in the West Cork town since 2005.

Her work has involved lobbying the town council, organising public meetings and fundraising for the facility for which a proposed building has been visited by Children’s Minister Barry Andrews.

Treasa Ní Shúilleabháin, 17, is also in the running for the award. A student at Schull Community College, she is a founding member of the Bantry Youth Café Events Committee, has fundraised for the Belarusian Orphanage Project and Irish Heart Foundation, and volunteers twice a week at the Bantry Co-Action Centre. She has taught an elderly lady to use a computer and helps coach children’s GAA teams.

Ileana Wright from Farran, a student at Scoil Mhuire in the city, is shortlisted for work in her community, particularly with the elderly, helping one neighbour with his farming. The 15-year-old also volunteers at Faith and Light meetings for people with disabilities.

Rebecca Casey’s voluntary work with a charity helping institutionalised people aged 17 to 30 in Romania has earned her a shortlist place. The Leaving Certificate student at Christ King Secondary School in Douglas spent 10 days with the Aurelia Trust, having fundraised to take the trip.

The awards organised by Donegal-based technology company Pramerica and the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) will be presented at a dinner in Maryborough House Hotel on March 24.

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