Michael Keohane from Baltimore has been recognised for the motivation, service and impact he has demonstrated for his local community as a 2015 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards top 20 finalist.
Michael, a sixth year student at St. Fachtna’s De La Salle, Skibbereen, promoted youth mental health by helping to found and establish the ‘Youth in Action’ project ‘Skibb Scenes’ in January 2013 offering cinema facilities and a social outlet to young people in the local community.
Michael set up mental health supportive workshops around the theme of ‘Skibb Smiles’ and through the COPE Foundation in Skibbereen, worked closely with clients suffering intellectual disabilities. In August 2014, Michael took on his biggest challenge with the Aurelia Trust and travelled to Romania to work with young disabled adults who had been institutionalised from birth.
“Through fundraising and awareness raising activities, I was approached by my local newspaper to become a youth reporter and have written several articles about the tasks that face young people in our local community,” said Michael. “My own past experiences have inspired me to work hard for the charities that I am involved in and I want to continue to promote positive mental health awareness for the young people of Skibbereen.”
Speaking about his work, Principal David Barry said “Michael has always shown great maturity in everything that he does and I highly commend him for all his fundraising and charitable activities.”
The only all-Ireland youth initiative of its kind is run in partnership with The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) and The General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI) and recognises outstanding acts of volunteerism by Ireland’s youth.
Twenty post-primary students, who hail from all corners of Ireland, will be presented with €500 and an engraved silver medallion at the gala awards ceremony on March 12 in the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa by special guest Brent Pope. At the gala, two of the 20 students will be named All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year and will receive €1,000 for a charity of their choice, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their school and an all-expense paid trip to the United States in May to participate in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremony.
“The calibre of entrants was exceptional this year and we’re delighted to recognise and showcase such exemplary young people,” said Andrea McBride, vice president, Pramerica. “Since we launched the programme in 2006, the awards has given us the opportunity to acknowledge the voluntary activities of hundreds of extraordinary youth ambassadors who are actively making a difference in their communities. They are the future leaders in our society and they are a benchmark for other young people to strive towards. We are thrilled to honour their commitment to volunteerism through this awards programme.”