The research, published as part of the award scheme’s 30th anniversary, studied young people before and after they took part in the personal development initiative and compared them with youths who did not take part.
It found the psychological wellbeing of participants was greatly improved and that the initiative has a positive effect on mental health.
Undertaken by Niamh Clarke MacMahon and Gary O’Reilly from UCD’s School of Psychology, the research was carried out over three years. It studied the psychological attributes of more than 600 participants between the ages of 15 and 25 and compared them with those of young people who had not taken part.
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Bronze award participants gained the most from the process, showing the most significant increase in levels of hope, self-efficacy, self-esteem, happiness and psychological wellbeing.
“Young people in today’s society face enormous pressure in their everyday lives,” said Gaisce chairman John Concannon.
“Now we are reassured that young people emerge more hopeful of the future, more confident and self-assured and better able to build positive relationships with friends and family as a result of taking part in Gaisce’s programme.”
David Murtagh, 21, first got involved with Gaisce when he was 15.
“At the time Gaisce was quite expensive to do so the local youth service, the Brú in Crumlin, took that barrier away. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be on the path I’m on today. I’m incredibly grateful,” he said.
David is now undertaking a Bachelor of Arts in Community and Youth Work at Maynooth University. He is still involved with Gaisce, mentoring other youths taking up the challenge of the President’s Award.