Nine groups of young people from Donegal exhibited their community action project at the Aldi Foróige Youth Citizenship Awards recently.

Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration David Stanton TD opened the awards and commended the young people for all their hard work.

He visited a number of the groups, and talked to the young people about the work they had done in their community. (see images attached  of the Minister visiting Bincrana groups)

Darragh Hynes, aged 17, from Meath was named the overall national winner at the Awards. His Citizenship Project, which raised €2140 for St Francis Hospice through a culture night event, was chosen from over 200 community projects developed by young people.

More than 2,000 young people, representing every county in Ireland showcased their community action projects at the Awards, focused on improving the entrants’ local communities in areas such as equality, homelessness, inclusion, community events, mental health, culture and much more.

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.”

The Awards were opened by Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, David Stanton T.D. Today FM presenter Alison Curtis hosted, 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.

Projects from Donegal included:

- Dunree Foróige Club, Donegal

A renovation of a historical local graveyard

Dunree Foróige Club decided to renovate a graveyard in their community which dated back over 500 years as they felt it was a good way to encourage people to look into their ancestors and learn their history. The group sought permission from the parish priest to pursue the project. The members contacted a local geneaology group to ensure their project was safe for the gravestones.

- Carndonagh Foróige Club, Donegal

A tree planting to tackle climate change

Following flash flooding in August 2018, many families were left homeless and extreme damage occured. Carndonagh Foróige Club wanted to address climate change and reduce the impact we have on the environment to prevent future disasters. The club contacted Donegal County Council to seek permission to plant trees and for an appropriate place to plant the trees. They then attended a tree sale run by the Inishowen Environmental Group to buy the trees. The group planted a tree on Barrack Hill and invited local representatives and the local tidy towns.

Buncrana Foróige Club Seniors, Donegal

A cultural awareness evening promoting diversity and equality

Buncrana Foróige Club realised that there was a lack of awareness in their community about other cultures and decided to tackle the issue by holding a cultural evening for members of the Junior Foróige Club. The members each took responsibility to research and represent the cultures of one country at the event. They included China, Spain, Greece, The Netherlands, India, Nepal, Italy and Switzerland. The group provided information and traditional food from their country.

Foróige Juniors, Buncrana, Donegal

A project to raise awareness about the different grounds of equality

Buncrana Junior Foróige club researched issues related to equality such as religious equality, racism, gender neutral fashion and marriage equality.  To learn more about what their peers know about the theme of equality they created a questionnaire which they used as an information tool in local schools.  Following this they presented their findings to both the Junior and Senior Foróige clubs in the area to improve their understanding of equality issues. They also invited a speaker to do a disability equality workshop.

- Oliver Yeoman, Donegal

A Dungeons and Dragons themed group to improve self-confidence and social skills

Oliver Yeoman decided to create a group to help people improve their social skills and bolster self-confidence. He wanted to encourage people to speak to and see each other more so he chose a Dungeons and Dragons club, as it is 90% auditory. The club helps people create characters and encourages them to roleplay.

Noelle Kilpatrick, Donegal

A bake sale and raffle in aid of the Irish Wheelchair Association

Aware that there are many inaccessible areas in her community, Noelle Kilpatrick decided to raise money to support wheelchair users. She interviewed the coordinator of the Irish Wheelchair Association before embarking on her fundraising. Noelle then organised a bake sale in school and approached local businesses for raffle prizes. The bake sale raised €180 and raffle ticket sales are ongoing.

- The DECK Youth Project, Donegal

A fundraising Easter camp for Heart Children Ireland

The DECK Youth Development Project decided to hold a fundraising Easter camp to raise money for Heart Children Ireland. They chose this charity because a member of their group has gotten a lot of support from it over the years, so they wanted to raise awareness and promote the charity in their community. They organised an Easter camp for junior members of Foróige. As a group they also researched about common heart defects in Ireland and learnt about the type of support Heart Children Ireland provide to families.

- Milaoise Armstrong, Donegal

A road safety campaign aimed at young people

Having learned first hand the devastating impact that speeding on our roads can have, Milaoise Armstrong decided to embark on a road safety awareness campaign for young people. She campaigned using the hashtag "Is the thrill worth the kill" and compiled a speech which she delivered to 6th Year Students in the local school.  Milaoise spoke at the Inishowen Road Safety Conference which was the first of its kind in the area.

C.E. Óige Foróige Club, Donegal

A project exploring the impact Brexit will have on Irish farmers

This group examined the impact Brexit will have on Irish Farmers. They organised visits to Inishowen farms and spoke to farmers about how they'll be effected.  They also invited Deputy Charlie McConologue to speak to the group on the subject. The young people attended seminars on Brexit and held a community night to announce their findings. They also published the results in a leaflet and sent it to interested stakeholders and politicians.

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