Cork and Wexford students named 2015 All Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year

on Monday, 16 March 2015. Posted in Press Releases

Teenagers Honoured by former New Zealand rugby player, coach and pundit Brent Pope

Michael and Sophie - website front page

As well as receiving €1,000 for a charity of their choice and a gold medallion, Michael and Sophie will now travel on an all-expenses paid trip to Washington D.C. in May to meet up with youth volunteers from across America and participate in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremony.

Working to promote youth mental health, Michael helped to establish the ‘Youth in Action’ project ‘Skibb Scenes’ offering cinema facilities and a social outlet to young people in the local community. He set up supportive workshops around the theme of ‘Skibb Smiles’ and through the C.O.P.E 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.

Since the loss of her sister to suicide, Sophie became passionate about raising awareness of how common mental illness can be through promoting the message “it’s ok not to feel ok”.   In 2013, Sophie undertook a training week at St Patrick’s mental health hospital.  Since then, she has held a ‘Walk in my Shoes’ day at her own school as well as introducing it to other schools throughout Wexford.  The event encourages students and teachers alike to wear mismatched shoes in order to appreciate how those suffering from mental illness feel when being judged by others. Sophie is a keen participant in Cycle against Suicide (CAS), having cycled both in this event and their monthly spin off programmes.

The only all-Ireland youth initiative of its kind, the Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards programme recognises young people for their motivation, service and impact on their local community across the island of Ireland.