Children and Youth

David O’Hara, Solas Project, Dublin

Dave is a mentor in Solas Project’s After School’s club for children aged 11 – 13. The children come to ‘The Bridge’ club every day after school. They have their dinner (a cooked nutritious meal), they play games, do activities and do their homework. Dave has an interesting Role at The Bridge club – he is the handy man, the class clown, the extra pair of hands, the homework genius and also a great support to staff.

Dave is always committed to at least one day per week at The Bridge (5 hours), he has also committed to mentoring a young person as part of the teen mentoring programme,Step Up (2 hours a week). He can be relied upon for every event whether during or outside of the academic year. Where other volunteers like to take a few weeks or months breather, Dave keeps going. It is invaluable to the organisation to have at least one familiar face throughout the year for the children.

Dave has recently completed a Masters in Community and Youth work and this ties in well to the work that Solas Project does. He has an insight and dedication unique to him because he is volunteering for something he feels hugely passionate about and wants to pursue.

Emily, who nominated Dave, shared a snapshot of Dave’s initiative and impact. “The young people had been discussing their frustrations and the general feeling was that they needed a change at the club’s location. The next day Dave came to the club with all the tools needed to re-arrange the layout of the space, he facilitated the change and allowed the young people to create the space exactly how they’d envisioned. The impact of Dave’s creativity in this instance allowed the children to work on a project together, agree on a plan, and execute that plan into action as a team!”

Padraig Sheeran, Kilimanjaro Achievers, Dublin

Padraig Sheeran is a director of Kilimanjaro Achievers which was set up by the renowned Irish Adventurer Ian McKeever. Ian vision was to work with young people on their personal development. Padraig was the team doctor who worked with Ian , as he took groups of young children/teenagers to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. On the death of Ian McKeever in 2012, Padraig continued with others, to keep both the memory of Ian alive and also continue the good work for young people.

Kilimanjaro is the tallest free standing mountain in the world (5895m/19,341ft), and is at extreme altitude.  For any properly trained individual, to climb this mountain is seen as a major achievement.

Padraig and KA work tirelessly for the children. Prior to taking children to climb Mount Kilimanjaro he dedicates many months of training with them.

In August 2018, after 9 months of preparation for the trip, he took a group of 11 children, 10 with scoliosis and other conditions, to climb Kilimanjaro and all reached the summit succesfully (23/8/2018).  Training was 3 weekends out of every four, from 5 months prior to leaving for Africa, as some of the children had complex medical needs.  This year one child dislocated her kness and shoulder in training.  One child had not fractured any bones for 5 years, but this trip would test that.  Two climbers had significant back pain, one after surgery and one waiting for surgery.  Two climbers only weighed 40 kg each, a significant disadvantage. Padraig worked with their own medical teams to ensure he had prepared for all eventualities on the mountain.

Padraig and KA goes above what is required for the children. He has taken a number of groups to climb Kilimanjaro with many of the children having complex and special requirements. He has taken 2 children with Cystic Fibrosis to climb and other children with Scoliosis, ADHD, bilateral slipped femoral epiphyses and immature bone conditions.

According to Gail who nominated Padraig and whose daughter climbed Kilimanjaro with the group “Padraig has shown all the children who have been part of this group that they are as important and valued as everyone else and that any disabilities, special requirements makes them no less special. The feeling of worth and achievement these children get from Padraig is outstanding. The trips to Kilimanjaro shows children what they can achieve & that they are wonderful inspiring young people. They also form new friendships and enhance their social skills.”

For physical activity in teenagers (girls especially), and physical disease in general they have made a significant statement towards not letting their disease define them.

‘Nothing without effort’ Ian McKeever

‘Your future is as bright as you make it’ Rick Mayal

Sharon Clarke, STEPS – Engineers Ireland and Seagate, Donegal

Sharon has volunteered with STEPS for 5 years and is passionate about helping to promote awareness of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) among young people in Donegal and Derry.

Sharon works full time in Seagate Technology, Derry, where she has lead and encouraged an entire team of STEM ambassadors to reach out to schools in the region, running fun and educational activities for all the kids, giving them the chance to be creative and experience engineering. Through her hard work and commitment, Sharon and her team managed to reach 2922 primary school students in 21 school visits in the Donegal/Derry area in the 2017/2018 school year alone. The number of visits Sharon carries out each year is consistently growing each year and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Sharon has also shown initiative by recognizing the need for female engineers to be supported throughout all stages of life, even at career level, and she was involved in setting up a women’s group in her workplace. The aim of the group is to support and empower female engineers at all stages of their career through means of group activities, outings and volunteer outreach activities.
Sharon has achieved so much through her volunteering, and she has clearly made a significant and visible difference to all around her. She has broken many records and encouraged and educated so many young children by serving as a role model and STEM ambassador.