On the 27th of February 2024 four projects came together in Atrium at the Department of Justice for the 2nd Annual Gaisce Awards Ceremony. The event was MC’d by Keith O’Driscoll, Project Manager of the KEEP Youth Diversion Projects (YDP’s) Special guests, Minister of State James Browne, and Gaisce CEO Avril Ryan were also in attendance.

The event was to celebrate the remarkable achievements of 15 young people from across the YDP Independent Network (KEEP Project, Clay Project, Bru Project, Smart Project). The 15 young people received Gaisce Bronze & Silver Awards.  

Craig Harcourt of KEEP Project receives his reward.
Craig Harcourt receives his award from Gaisce CEO Avril Ryan and Minister of State for International Law, Law Reform and Youth Justice, James Browne.

In order to achieve these awards, the YDP Participants had to achieve challenges areas of personal development, community engagement, and physical activity, driver theory tests, new languages, first aid, cooking , peer leadership, community development campaigns , and joining a sporting club or gym were just some of the skills that the participants had to develop in order to win the Bronze and Silver Awards, They were also required to embark on an adventure journey at Cavan Centre where they completed a 30 km Hike, empathy building sessions, lake activities,  and meditation & yoga classes but there was time for the  group to relax too, and enjoy lake sunsets, a barbeque, and even some well-earned Pizza after a day of activities.  

In order to qualify for the awards, the young people had to engage in their Gaisce.

Programmes with their Youth Justice Workers, who are also trained Gaisce President Award Leaders, for 6-12 months. Over this period the young people demonstrated great motivation to change, determination, ambition, consistency and commitment to their health & well-being.

The award winners were initially referred to the Youth Diversion Projects due to negative decision making, or from difficult circumstances in their lives. The idea of this event was to bring the young people together to celebrate their personal achievements and to give them a moment that they don’t get to experience very often. At the ceremony, these young people were praised, validated, and congratulated for their accomplishments. This allowed their self-esteem to elevate to a place that has been unfamiliar until now.

Minister of State James Browne emphasised the importance of youth justice programmes and praised the young people’s efforts. Minister Browne acknowledged that due largely to the success of YDPs, the government is committed to supporting the young people in the best way possible to support positive outcomes.

Gaisce CEO Avril Ryan and Inspector Gwen McKenna of the Garda National Youth Diversion Bureau also delivered addresses to attendees. Inspector McKenna spoke of the importance of Youth Diversion Projects and the difference that they can make to a young persons’ life.

In August 2024 the medallists aim to continue their Gaisce Journey on the Gold Adventure Trip to Achill Island where they will engage in a 60 km Hike on the West Coast GreenWay & 50km cycle. With a bit of luck in 18 months’ time they will be receiving their Gold Award in Áras an Uachtaráin.

Best Of Luck to all the young people on their extraordinary achievement.

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