Garda awards celebrate West Cork youth

Many teenagers look to older folk as mentors to guide and assist them in becoming mature adults. The winners of the West Cork Garda Youth Awards do things the other way around, advising, helping and inspiring people of all ages.

Garda awards celebrate West Cork youth

Among them is Jack O’Sullivan, a 19-year-old from Alihees on the Beara peninsula. He is part of a group that raises awareness of the importance of donating blood and also is involved in a campaign to promote positive mental health in the community.

In between such a busy schedule, Jack also helps to care for his two siblings with special needs. Little wonder, then, that he was among seven overall winners of the awards, which have been sponsored by SuperValu for the past 22 years.

Twenty-year-old Michael Keohane, from Baltimore, is another go-getter, concentrating on the arts in the community. Michael taught drama to adults from the COPE foundation while producing a film about the positive role of young people. Michael also established Skibb Scenes, which provides cinema facilities and a social outlet locally, and he was also involved in setting up Skibb Smiles, raising awareness of mental health issues in the community.

Michael Keohane, Baltimore, was one of the overall award winners in the West Cork Garda Youth Aawards. Pictures: Eddie O’Hare

Michael Keohane, Baltimore, was one of the overall award winners in the West Cork Garda Youth Aawards. Pictures: Eddie O’Hare

Another inspiring youngster is David Giles, from Bandon. Aged 17, he is chairman of Newcestown Foróige and he is on the National Reference Panel, which represents the 56,000 Foróige members in the country. David volunteers with Saint Michael’s Centre in Bandon, working with the elderly and was recently announced as a national winner of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards.

Also among the overall winners of the West Cork Garda Youth Awards is 16 year old Elaine Nagle, from Rathmore, Co. Kerry. She has been very involved in organising parties and events for the elderly while assisting in projects such as the purchase and development of the local Presentation Convent, and its subsequent conversion to apartments for older people in her locality.

Brigid O’Sullivan from Ballydehob is equally busiy. The 17-year-old took part in Brexit Consultation in Croke Park and spoke to the Oireachtas Education Committee recently. She has addressed the UNICEF conference in Germany on behalf of children worldwide, where she was part of a panel on climate change, and children’s rights.

Other winners include Maeve O’Sullivan, Rosscarbery ,18, who volunteered as a helper on a Lourdes pilgrimage. Also on the list is 16-year-old Conor O’Neill from Baltimore, a talented soccer and rugby player who also volunteers with the Saint Vincent de Paul in his local community.

There were seven overall winners, four district awards, five special achievement and two group achievement awards handed out at the ceremony which took place last night at the Riverside Park Hotel, Macroom.

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