For the dedication she has demonstrated in service to her community, Eimear Mansfield, from Waterford has been recognised as one of 20 finalists in the 2017 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, the only allIreland youth initiative of its kind which rewards post-primary students for outstanding acts of volunteerism and the positive contribution they make in their local communities and further afield.
Eimear, a fifth year student at Newtown School, Waterford, was inspired to volunteer after a visit by Jonathan Irwin of the Jack and Jill Foundation to her school. She was deeply affected by the story of his son Jack and was motivated to do what she could to make a difference to the lives of children and their families.
Eimear, with her classmates, set up an initiative called ‘Hares on the March Waterford’ which was a variation of the existing Dublin initiative. The project was logistically challenging as it involved sending plain hare statues to different schools and youth projects in the area to be decorated by the young people, gaining sponsorship from local businesses, and finally, placing the hares at different locations across the town as landmarks on a 5km fitness trail to encourage activity. To do so, Eimear and the team liaised with primary and secondary schools, scouted 10 key locations and secured permission at high-profile spots with high footfall such as the Waterford Crystal Visitors Centre and Ardkeen Stores. The project raised nearly ?14,000 for the Jack and Jill Foundation.
“Eimear was a superb leader in the Hares on the March Project,” said School principal Keith Lemon. “She inspired the rest of the TY students to work with her and create a project that was one of the most talked about and unique projects ever done in our school by TY students.”
The post-primary students, who hail from all corners of Ireland, will be presented with ?500 and an engraved silver medallion at the gala awards ceremony on 23rd March at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Dublin with special guest speaker Irish international rugby player Jordi Murphy. At the gala, two of the 20 students will be named All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year, receiving ?1,000, a gold medallion, a crystal trophy for their school and an all-expense paid trip to the United States in May to participate in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremony.
“The 20 finalists are extremely passionate about the work they carry out in their local community, and their stories are truly inspiring,” said Andrea McBride, vice president, Pramerica Systems Ireland. “From supporting young people with Down syndrome to travelling to work in an orphanage abroad, they are aiding a broad range of charities and organisations through their selfless acts of volunteerism. It is humbling to see the commitment and dedication from these young people, and we are honoured to recognise the volunteering they are doing in their local schools, communities and abroad to make the lives better of those less fortunate than themselves.”
The programme is run in partnership with the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI). The programme is also supported by Volunteer Now, Volunteer Ireland, Scouting Ireland and Foróige.