On the 18th April 2018 over 200 young people and teachers from 12 schools in the west of Ireland attended the Youth Day in Castlebar. The event was co-ordinated and facilitated by Helen Ralph, Youth Development Officer for Galway, Mayo and Roscommon.
On the day, we heard from long standing SVP members who were inspirational and encouraging of youth participation in SVP related projects. Padraic Gavin spoke enthusiastically about the positive impact of volunteering giving an insight to his commitment for over 60 years. Marion Flynn spoke about the SVP Education and Training Bursary which aims to eliminate barriers to accessing further education and training (see Education Grants, SVP website). A special effort was made to allow students to interact and showcase their projects that demonstrated their hard work and commitment. Students stood proudly by their displays of various befriending, education, direct aid and social justice projects. Each stall represented numerous student led projects, the core ethos of the Young SVP Programme. Many students took part in short Q & A panels, speaking about experience gained and skills developed because of volunteering through their school conference. Each stall had prepared interactive activities and encouraged student participation in various activities.
We also heard from Marcella Stakem, representing the SVP Social Justice department in Dublin. Marcella reminded us of the challenges/barriers that many people face daily. The Young SVP programme was highlighted as a way for young people to raise awareness and take action to tackle some of the issues in our society.
During lunch we enjoyed a delicious meal in the event venue, Breaffy House Hotel, and had great fun making personalised badges and decorating tote bags. Students voiced their appreciation for prizes won and time given throughout the day to meet young people from other schools.
The day will also be remembered for the talented performances from Sacred Heart School, Westport; Abbey Community College, Boyle and Clarin College, Athenry. Indeed, the day finished with a lively performance and many students and teachers still singing as they were going out the door!
Thank you to all those who attended and your participation on the Young SVP Programme. Thank you for your great sense of humour and enthusiasm on the day!