Kayla Canning and David Giles named Ireland’s Top Youth Volunteers of the Year

6 February 2018

Two students named Ireland’s Top Youth Volunteers for 2019 at The Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards

Dublin, Thursday, 28 March 2019: Two outstanding youth volunteers have been named winners of the 2019 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, the only All-Ireland youth initiative of its kind, for their commitment to volunteer service in their local communities.

Kayla Canning, a student at St. Cecilia’s College in Derry and David Giles, a student at Ardscoil Ui Urmoltaigh in Cork have been selected from hundreds of young volunteers from across the country and recognised for the initiative, effort and impact demonstrated during their volunteer service. The two winners were announced at the Pramerica Spirit of Community awards ceremony, which was held at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Kayla and David were presented with a gold medallion, €1,000 for a charity of their choice, a crystal trophy for their school as well as an expenses paid trip to attend the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards in Washington D.C. where both students will have the opportunity to meet other young volunteers from across the United States.

Kayla has been a volunteer with the Kinship Care Group for five years and a Health Champion at the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum (BBHF) for four years, completing over 250 hours of volunteer service. She has delivered talks to youth groups and schools to increase awareness of the dangers of substance abuse and to promote positive mental health. She is also a member of a youth board that acts in an advisory capacity to the Board of Directors of the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum. During this time, she has had the opportunity to deliver a four-week health and wellbeing programme at the Bogside and Brandywell Summer Scheme as well as the “Ur Smile” mental health programme in the Long Tower Youth Club.

David volunteers at St. Michael’s Centre for the Elderly, Marymount Hospice and Bushmount Nursing Home in Clonakilty, where he often provides musical entertainment to residents. As chairperson of Newcestown Foróige and the 2017 Big Breakfast Event, David helped raise €2,800 for local charities. He was also heavily involved in the organisation of the 5K Breast Cancer Fun Run, which raises awareness and funds for Breast Cancer Ireland.

“I am incredibly proud of Kayla and David for their dedication to volunteer work within their community,” said Andrea McBride, vice president of Information Systems, Pramerica Systems Ireland. “These inspirational young students have set a great example for their pupils, and I hope that the work of these students empowers others to become more active in their local communities across Ireland. I commend Kayla and David, along with all 20 honourees, for their efforts towards creating positive change in their communities.”

Former professional footballer, psychotherapist, and mental fitness teacher, Richie Sadlier, gave the keynote address at the awards ceremony and spoke about his personal insights and experiences from his own volunteer work.

The Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, which are in partnership with the National Association of Principals & Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI), also recognised the top two Junior Honourees, Mary Wilson Reilly from Kildare and Benat Broderick from Dublin, who will receive who received an additional €500 for their chosen charity.

“I personally want to congratulate Kayla and David and complement them on the incredible voluntary service that they carry out their own communities” said Clive Byrne, Director of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals.

“The ardent mindset that they utilise in their towns is having a truly positive impact on the lives of their neighbours. We know that the work they carry out in their spare time is not unappreciated by the people and communities they care for, it is a proud moment for their families and schools, and this national appreciation is something that they richly deserve. We in the NAPD are delighted to be a part of it.”

The selection committee that chose the two All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year were: Andrea McBride, vice president, Pramerica Systems Ireland; Clive Byrne, director of NAPD; David Canning, chairperson of GTCNI; Denise Hayward, chief executive of Volunteer Now; and Sean Campbell, CEO of Foróige.

For more information, follow the Pramerica Spirit of Community on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat (@Pramerica_SOC) or visit spirit.pramerica.ie.

The 2019 finalists are:
Benat Broderick, Stepaside Educate Together Secondary, Co. Dublin
Kayla Canning, St. Cecilia’s College, Co. Derry
Maura Carroll, Newtown School, Co. Waterford
Ruth Conlon Oates, Mercy College, Co. Sligo
Dominic Cronin, Patrician Academy, Co. Cork
Adara Garcia, Castleknock Community College, Co. Dublin
David Giles, Ardscoil Ui Urmoltaigh, Co. Cork
Lena Goumaa, St. Paul’s Secondary School, Co. Dublin
Katie Graden, Glenlola Collegiate, Co. Down
Eimhear Hardy, St. Louis Grammar School, Co. Antrim
Gerard Heneghan, Glenamaddy Community School, Co. Galway
Christopher Magee, Our Lady And St. Patrick’s College, Co. Antrim
Kira McDonnell, St. Dominic’s High School, Co. Antrim
Kai McHugh, St. Eunan’s College, Co. Donegal
Ciara McKenna, St. Mary’s Secondary School, Co. Dublin
Elaine Nagle, Scoil Phobail Sliabh Luachra, Co. Kerry
Ciara O’Malley, Loreto Secondary School, Co. Donegal
Teresa-Maria O’Shea, St. Angela’s College, Co. Cork