111 teenagers from around Ireland graduated from the Foróige Albert Schweitzer Leadership for Life Programme during a conferring ceremony in NUI Galway at the weekend. The graduates were deemed to have demonstrated a desire to lead from the front and set a good example to their peers through positive decision making and actions.
Following the ceremony at NUI Galway on Friday night, one of the graduates, Amy O'Reilly (17) from Tallaght said:
"This means the world to me. I can now use the skills that I've developed to positively shape my future. My inter-personal skills have really grown. I am now confident and able to talk to anybody."
Patricia O'Gorman (16) from Skeheenarinky, Tipperary said:
"My communications skills have improved greatly because of all the community work that I've done and you've no choice but to meet new people. I used to be quite shy but the Foróige leadership programme has shown me that my views count and I can come up with good ideas. Meeting new friends was brilliant and we have all become so close. I think every young person should do this programme, I really do."
Gemma Coffey (16) from Mitchelstown, Cork said:
"I put so much work into this and it feels great when you see it paying off. Getting a qualification from NUI Galway at 16 is a great achievement in itself but the best part about the Foróige leadership programme was growing confidence, my own self-belief, and meeting great new people who have now become my close friends. The community element of it is really important and I now feel closer to my community. I would definitely recommend the Foróige leadership programme to other young people."
Conor Malone (18) from Milltown, Kildare said:
"This means a huge amount to me and it is the result of a lot of work. I continue to volunteer with Jumping Jellybeans which is a fitness club for children with special needs in Milltown. I suppose Jumping Jellybeans is the type of community project which exemplifies what the Foróige leadership programme is all about. I'd encourage as many young people as possible to enrol in the programme. The effort is really worth it!."
Nicholas Dunphy (16) from Ballycallan in Kilkenny said:
"A group of us in Kilkenny City started this last year. I used to be a bit giddy but this course has really made me develop personally. I've made some really good friends through the leadership programme and there aren't too many 16-year-olds who graduate from NUI Galway so it is really great."
Séamus Hogan from Meath said:
"I can't believe that I've just graduated from NUI Galway. I started college this year in Belfast but already I have this. When I began the Foróige leadership programme I was quite shy but now you can't get me to stop talking. It has taught me how to work as a team member and my communications skills have really improved. I'm just more confident and happier in myself, basically I'm more confident. The leadership programme has also shown me how important my community is back home."
Áine Keating (17) from Mountbellew in Galway said:
"It has been a great experience and there is a real sense of achievement. I definitely feel like I have grown a lot. When I'm in a group situation I now have the confidence to have my say and I realise that my opinion is as important as others. I have developed really important life skills and I've met so many great people through the Foróige leadership programme."
Isobel Phillips from the Foróige Best Practice Unit, which manages the leadership programme, said:
"Foroige's leadership for life programme enables young people to develop new skills like self awareness, communication and team building, and to set goals for themselves to be a force for good in their communities. As an organisation we're incredibly proud of the young people who graduated on Friday from NUI Galway with a Foundation Certificate in Youth Leadership and Community Action. They've put a lot of work into achieving the certificate and we're delighted to see young people being recognised for being the young leaders that they are."
The Chief Executive of Foróige is Seán Campbell:
"Foróige is delighted to operate this fabulous leadership programme in Ireland and I wish to sincerely congratulate our 111 young people who graduated on Friday night. Albert Schweitzer believed that young people have the ability to change the world just by stepping up to the plate and being positive role models for others. These young people are making a positive difference in their communities across Ireland and we are extremely proud of them."
Notes to Editors:
In 1952 Albert Schweitzer received the Nobel Peace Prize having founded the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, now in Gabon, west central Africa. Dr. Schweitzer was passionate about young people and their future leadership roles and serving mankind. His message for youth was “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know, the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.” Dr Schweitzer passed away in 1965.
The Albert Schweitzer Leadership for Life Programme was developed in Ireland in 2009 by Foróige in partnership with the Irish Chamber of Commerce - United States of America (ICCUSA). The Foróige ASLFL leadership programme is open to young adults aged 15-18 who have demonstrated good leadership abilities within their own community and aspire to be our next generation of leaders. The conference provided the students with a unique, cross-cultural learning experience, via lectures, workshops and team-building exercises. The idea is to engage and inspire the students to become leaders, particularly focusing on community service, skills development, multi-culturalism, health & well-being and environmental solutions.
For further information please contact:
Jerome Hughes, Foróige Media Officer
086 197 4392
Foróige is the leading and largest youth organisation in Ireland. The charity works with 64,000 young people and 5,500 adult volunteers annually, through a network of more than 600 youth clubs & cafés, 154 targeted projects and national programmes such as Citizenship, Entrepreneurship and Leadership.