Darragh Hynes from Ratoath in Meath has been named the overall national winner at the Aldi Foróige Youth Citizenship Awards this weekend.
His Citizenship Project, which raised money for St Francis Hospice through holding a culture night, was chosen from over 200 community projects developed by young people.
It is the first time since the programme began in 1969 that an individual has won the top prize at the Awards.
The 17-year-old decided that he would raise funds for St. Francis Hospice, as it was a charity close to many in the community.
Darragh, with the support of Ratoath Foróige Club, organised a culture night in the local village theatre. At the event, people were encouraged to display talents in a non-competitive atmosphere.
Darragh contacted the hospice and sought permission to fundraise for them and they provided buckets and t-shirts. Through ticket sales, raffle tickets and the bucket collection Darragh and the team raised €2,140 for St Francis Hospice.
Commenting at the Awards, Seán Campbell, CEO of Foróige said: “The Aldi Foróige Youth Citizenship Awards programme is designed to empower young people across Ireland to use their skills and talents to make a positive contribution to their local community.”
“The programme involves young people researching the needs of their community, organising practical action in response, evaluating the effectiveness of their work and reflecting on what they’re learning along the way. The projects entered were all about solving social issues in the community for the community.”
“The standard of entry this year was exceptional and we are so proud of all those who took part and everything these young people have achieved in their communities.”
More than 2,000 young people, representing every county in Ireland, descended on the Citywest Conference Centre to celebrate and showcase their community action projects at the Awards.
Some 200 youth groups took part, having worked on citizenship projects focused on improving the entrants’ local communities in areas such as equality, homelessness, inclusion, community events, mental health, culture and much more.
Seven projects received gold awards, five silver and eight bronze. Gold winning projects included Ballineen Foróige Agri Lads, which developed a new kill switch for tractors to enhance farm safety and Islandeady Senior Foróige Club, which promoted healthy eating through holding workshops and planting vegetables.
The Awards were opened by Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton T.D.
Today FM presenter Alison Curtis hosted and MC’d, while Seo Linn and DJ Claire Beck provided music throughout the day.
This year was the fourth year Aldi has partnered with Foróige to support the Awards, having recently agreed a new three-year €900,000 partnership extension with the youth organisation.
Speaking at the Awards, Finbar McCarthy, Group Buying Director with Aldi added: “Aldi’s commitment to Foróige is underlined by committing to another three-year partnership. Every year we have attended the Awards the standard of Citizenship Project entry has improved and the dedication and passion of these young people is very humbling.”