Harold Perez, Coder Dojo, Dublin

Harold is one of the founding Mentors of CoderDojo Dun Laoghaire and after 5 years of involvement, he remains one of the most passionately active. CoderDojo sessions run weekly during term-time; the only time Harold misses a session is if he is away for work, and even at that he has sent messages and tweets for the kids while he has been working in Australia! Harold comes along for 2 hours and immerses himself totally in the environment, helping kids work out solutions to problems, encouraging them to present on the big screen, and very importantly helping them to help each other.

Harold not only mentors at CoderDojo sessions, he is an active participant in online mentor discussions, is an incredibly positive participant at mentor planning meetings and also helps out at local community events. One of Harold’s key impacts has been Coolest Projects which takes place in the RDS. This is an annual event where CoderDojo “ninjas” can showcase projects they have worked on. In 2016 approximately 700 projects were on show to almost 15,000 visitors at the RDS. Children from 17 countries including Ireland took part, and CoderDojo Dun Laoghaire had one of the highest number of participants from any Dojo.

He explains concepts to the children in terms they can understand; for example, he tells them that they’re not going to become expert footballers by reading books. While some concepts can be learned through studying, the way to become an expert at coding is to practice – again and again. “Just do it!” is his motto.

 

James Dempsey, Big Picture Youth Cafe, Dublin

James started out in The Big Picture on a TUS scheme managing the door and building. He went above and beyond in this role, a trait he has carried with him while volunteering. He transitioned to volunteer in the Youth Cafe in January 2016. During the last 20 months, he has been one of the most consistent volunteers in the youth cafe. The three hours a week he gives to the young people are for some of them, the highlight of the week. His bubbly and welcoming personality shines through and puts all young people at ease, whether established participants of the cafe or having just walked through the door.

Over his time working he has been in the Café almost every week, he has volunteered at several local and national Foróige events, volunteered on summer programmes with very short notice, done painting work on some of the youth facilities and much, much more. He has the ability to come up with stories about inanimate objects that tackle real issues that young people go through, as a way to open up conversation and debate about them in an easy and effective way. With his passion for equality and people’s rights, he brings a unique perspective to everything he does.

 

Tina Touhy, Foróige, Mayo

Tina originally established and helped set up the Swinford Foróige Club many years ago. She saw there was a need for something for the youth in the community and went about setting up a Foróige club in the town. She began with very small numbers but over the years she has pushed and pushed and the club has now become one of the biggest in Mayo.

She is very passionate about the Foróige clubs and throughout the year pushes the children’s involvement within the local and national community. Some examples include working with the Swinford Tidy Towns Committee, cleaning and decorating the local church, fundraising for the Make a Difference organisation, the Christmas Shoe Box Appeal, fundraising for the local GAA, fundraising for local children who required medical treatment – among many other things.

She is ever expanding the opportunities for children within the club. For the last two years the club has been involved with the national Youth Citizenship Awards where they work together as a club to identify a need within the community and work out ways of addressing it and acting on it. This year she also supported the involvement of 10 members of the club with the Leadership for Life Programme, a Level 6 course accredited by Maynooth University aimed at developing leadership skills.