Young people, parents and youth club leaders gathered in the Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny for the annual celebration evening hosted by Donegal Youth Service.
The highly energetic event is reflective of the dynamic service that works with over 5000 young people all over Co Donegal and supports almost 500 adult volunteers.
The event is an opportunity to showcase the great work of the service and the diversity of work which takes place within Donegal Youth Service projects and youth clubs throughout the county.
Performers on the night included Castlefinn Drummers, Ronan Friel, Dancers from Cockhill Youth Club and The World wide voices group.
Special DYS recognition awards were given for Youth Initiative, Volunteer of the year, young person of the year and Youth Club of the year.
The first award presented on the evening was the Youth Initiative Award, an award which recognises the projects developed by young people within Donegal Youth Service. The winner was the Youth Café Committee from Club Oige Criost Ri – a group of young people who work with adult volunteers in the planning developing and creation of a new youth café space for their peers.
Donegal Youth Service has over 500 volunteers currently working with youth clubs and other DYS projects. There two volunteer awards presented on the night;
The Youth Project Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Lorraine Daly who has volunteered in the Daybreak Project for 5 years and has provided invaluable support to young people to return to education.
The Youth Club Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Eamonn Mc Connell who is a founding member of the Castlefinn Youth Club and has been instrumental in the success of the Youth Club and the acquisition of the new youth café.
Young Person of the Year
The Young Person of the Year Award is presented annually to recognise the young people who triumphed over adversity, dedicated themselves to participation, social enterprise, volunteering and altruism. The 2014 winner is Kevin Carter from The BreakOut project for LGBT Young People. Kevin has invested his time and energy to support other young LGBT who are struggling with issues such as ‘Coming Out’. Kevin has now become a dynamic activist and advocate for the LGBT community and a young man who is a force to be reckoned with.
This year, Donegal Youth Service initiated a Special Recognition Award reserved for those who go above and beyond the call of duty for the organisation. The recipients of this award in 2014 are Aisling Ni Fhearraigh and Sinead Nic Phaidin (Club Oige Chriost Ri) who have been instrumental in getting the girls in the club to become more physically active through their persistence, encouragement and showing leadership to others.
All Ireland Recognition
The Board of Directors of DYS gave a token of appreciation was presented to the young people who represented their club and Donegal Youth Service at the Youth Work Ireland All-Ireland finals in Youth Games and Youth Factor in Tralee. Donegal was well represented at the finals with Castlefinn Yc, Cockhill YC, Chriost Ri, Fanad YC and The LOFT all making the journey to represent their county.
Following this year’s Youth Sport and Youth Factor National Finals, Youth Work Ireland decided to award the “Fair Play” award to the club who demonstrated sportsmanship and positive attitudes to all things youth work during the All Ireland Games and Youth Factor. This award is presented to just one club nationally and Donegal Youth Service were delighted to be in a position to present the prize to Chriost R for their commitment to showing support for their fellow Donegal Youth Clubs at the All Ireland event in June.
The final presentation of the evening was the DYS Youth Club of the Year award, which Planet Youth and Chriost Ri shared the winners prize . This award is presented to the club which participates in the most DYS activities, events and training.
The night concluded with a global cabaret performance by the World Voices Group. In closing the evening, the Regional Director of Donegal Youth Service, Lorraine Thompson, commended the work of all the young people involved in the evening. She noted that despite difficult times for the county, there is great vibrancy and dedication among the young people and volunteers and commented that “this is why we do this work”.