DAYNA Ní Shíocháin, a fifth-year student at Gaelcholáiste Mhuire, North Monastery and Elysha Ní Chuláin, a fifth-year student at Coláiste Íde in Daingean Uí Chúis, Kerry have been crowned the 2014 All Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year.
They were honoured at last night’s eighth annual Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, which is the only programme of its kind to recognise youth volunteerism on the island of Ireland.
The Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards was presented last night by Republic of Ireland Football Manager, Martin O’Neill at the Solis Lough Eske Hotel, Donegal town. “We need to celebrate our young people today to inspire them into being leaders of tomorrow,” says O’Neill. “We salute the 20 finalists in this programme who are helping those in need.”
“The stars tonight were our 20 finalists. They have awed and amazed us, the organisers, their families and teachers and indeed each other,” said Caroline Faulkner, senior managing director and CIO of Pramerica Systems Ireland Limited.
Congratulations to all our finalists and of course to our overall winners Dayna and Elysha – their stories are remarkable.”
17-year-old Dayna from Watergrasshill in Co. Cork was honoured for her dedication to helping Kayleigh, a schoolmate with cerebral palsy.
Kayleigh is in a wheelchair and unable to communicate verbally. Dayna spends two hours a day after school helping Kayleigh with her homework, physiotherapy and feeding. Dayna’s sister, Jenna Grace, also has developmental challenges. Her sister’s experience helped develop Dayna’s skills and ability to work with children with disabilities.
16-year-old Elysha from Bunratty in Co. Clare was honoured for her volunteering activities with Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin and Barretstown Camp in Co. Kildare.
At five, Elysha was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She was hospitalised in Crumlin for 10 years. While there, she underwent chemotherapy and several surgeries, which have left her with permanent kidney damage and blind in one eye.
“When I was eight, my tired body gave up. I had a massive heart attack and was on life support. It took a long time, but I am here today. I am healthy. I am strong. Our Lady’s Hospital did not give up on me.”
The two overall winners each received €1,000 for a charity of their choice, a gold medallion and an all-expense paid trip to the United States in May to participate in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremony.
The awards are held in partnership with the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals and the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland.
The selection committee that chose the two All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year were John Hume as honourary chair; Andrea McBride, Vice President – Systems, Pramerica; Ivan Arbuthnot, Chairperson, GTCNI; Clive Byrne, Director, NAPD; Wendy Osbourne, CEO Volunteer Now and Yvonne McKenna, CEO Volunteer Ireland.
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