The Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, today presented certificates to Clondalkin, Co Dublin, students in recognition of their community work.

The students had volunteered for community work through Localise, which has over 40 years  experience in organising and promoting volunteerism among young people. The organisation last year engaged over 1,070 youth volunteers in over 80,000 volunteering hours for 240 community service projects. This was estimated at providing the equivalent of €1.75m  worth of community service work.

Localise director Derek Cleary said: “We are delighted that the new Justice Minister was able to attend today’s graduation ceremony.  Our programmes enable young people to do much needed voluntary work in the community in the service of others – developing pro-active citizens and community leaders of the future.”

Mr Cleary stated: “These great young people are making a very positive impact in their community. Such work has a major impact on their lives and the lives of those with whom they help. Today’s ceremony recognises the community action projects with the Monday Club, a local elderly group and with Special Olympics Ireland (Eastern Region).

The Principal of Coláiste Bríde, Clondalkin, Ms. Marie-Therese Kilmartin said: “By participating in Localise programmes our students have a very clear understanding of what it means to be an active member of society – they combine learning with giving back to the community in a meaning full way.

Special Olympic Athletes from the Ronanstown Community Training Centre participated in one of the Localise Community Action Short Course projects being showcased at the graduation ceremony.

Regional  Development Officer with Special Olympics Eastern Region, Karen Coventry said: “The Localise programme is an important way for organisations such as Special Olympics to create meaningful and lasting relationships with young people. It helps us to build an understanding of what we do, but also offers us the opportunity to celebrate our commonalities and focus on all the positive aspects of our community that bind us together.”

Coláiste Bríde Rang Fionnuala invited Special Olympic Athletes from the Ronanstown Community Training Centre to the school last March, where they filmed a music video to the song ‘Happy’ by Pharrell Williams. The theme of the video was “Because I’m Happy to be Different, Because I’m Happy to Treat Everyone the Same.” Mr Cleary stated: “This event was a wonderful success as the students and Special Olympians were able to celebrate ability and focus on their commonalities, while sending out a serious but positive message.”

The school’s Rang Aodh visited the local elderly, The Monday Club, to find out about school days past.  While at The Monday Club the students held an intergenerational quiz and took portrait photos of the club members. The following week, The Monday Club members were invited back to school, where they were given a tour and were brought back into the classroom for a local history lesson given by class teacher Ms. McArdle before viewing an exhibition of their portraits and school stories.

Localise is funded by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and Department of Justice and Equality.

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