2012 Volunteer Ireland Awards, Children and Youth

Johnny O’Neill, The Playtrail


Johnny is 16 years old and has been volunteering as a Youth Activities Worker at The Playtrail since May, 2012. He volunteers on his days off school and at the weekend. During the summer Johnny volunteered full-time with the organisation.

Johnny set up a new initiative called  ‘KidZone’, a monthly disco for children aged between 5-11 year olds, which is becoming very successful. Johnny also applied for and secured funding for another new project, working with eight teenagers, teaching them to become more positive. He has also just applied for funding for his latest initiative - to run a 24 week cross-community programme teaching DJ skills, street dancing and life coaching and staging a final event for over 600 school children. 

Johnny arrives at The Playtrail each week with new ideas, his enthusiasm and creativity has inspired full time staff at the organisation to look at developing new initiatives. Johnny is also a DJ and a radio presenter on a local community radio. While doing all this he is still at school. He is passionate about encouraging young people to become more positive and lead better lives.

Dominic Bonner nominated Johnny for a Volunteer Ireland Award, Dominic said “He is a very positive young man with so many great ideas and of course the kids just love him. He is an excellent role model to other young people. He has brought so much to our project in the last few months, that no full time staff could have done… He smiles all the time, cheers so many people up and his peers are proud of him. This time last year he was a victim of bullying. Now he's the spark of his peers.”

Photography by Lorcan Doherty