Tipperary Student Named in Top 20 All-Ireland Youth Volunteers

Loreto Secondary School student honoured in 2013 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards

Emma Lacey, 17, a student at Loreto Secondary School, Clonmel has been named one of 20 winners in the seventh annual Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards.

Emma volunteered with the local Special Olympics club and spent her summers playing music to raise funds for Trocaire, The Carers Association, Hospice, Meals on Wheels, swimming club, G.A.A clubs and community groups.

Emma also raised €1,700 to cover the cost of a trip to Nairobi.  While in Nairobi, she spent two weeks at Shalom Academy School, Laini Saba Primary School and St. Paul’s Care Home, an orphanage for abandoned children. Emma also taught English, arts, crafts, music, sports, dancing, and helped paint the classrooms during her trip.

The poverty she witnessed inspired Emma to help make a difference, despite experiencing great challenges such as a lack of running water, an erratic electricity supply and arid climates.

“Emma is a bubbly, empathetic young girl who approaches every day with enthusiasm and always put the needs of others first.  She embodies the very spirit of volunteerism,” says Michelle McCartan, Outreach to Africa Deputy Leader.

Emma continues to fundraise for the two schools in Kenya, and also plans to join the Alive Volunteer scheme in NUI, Galway when she goes to college.

Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards showcases the outstanding acts of volunteerism demonstrated by second-level students across Ireland. It is the only programme of its kind in Ireland and so highlights the positive impact and influence young people have on society and the people around them.

Each year, 20 finalists are chosen from hundreds of applications nationwide. Pramerica Systems Ireland Limited developed the programme, in partnership with the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD) and the General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI).

Emma will receive a Certificate of Achievement from Pramerica Systems Ireland Limited later this month. Meanwhile, on the 27th of March, Emma and 19 other finalists will be honoured at a gala awards dinner in Lyrath Estate Hotel, Kilkenny. They will also receive €500 and an engraved silver medallion. In addition, two of the finalists will be named All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year at the awards dinner and will receive €1,000 for a charity of their choice, a gold medallion and an all-expense paid trip to the United States in May to participate in The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremony.

“These young volunteers are not only a credit to their schools, their families and their communities, they are a credit to themselves,” said Caroline Faulkner, senior managing director & CIO, Pramerica Systems Ireland Limited.  “We are delighted to acknowledge their hard work and commitment – which takes place under the radar – and their efforts to improve the lives of others.”

The 20 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards finalists were selected from second-level students nominated by their school principals last November. The applicants were judged on their motivation, service, impact, sustainability, commitment and personal challenges.

The All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year will be selected by a committee chaired by Nobel Laureate John Hume, Andrea McBride, Pramerica; Wendy Osbourne, Chief Executive, Volunteer Now; Yvonne McKenna, CEO, Volunteer Ireland; Kay O’Brien, President NAPD; and Ivan Arbuthnot, chairperson, GTCNI.

“The stories of these incredible acts of volunteerism remind us of the power of our youth today. Their ability to see the world and their place in it is remarkable,” said Kay O’Brien, President, NAPD. “We are delighted to work in association with the Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards, a platform to honour Ireland’s shining lights, our students, our future ambassadors.”

Ivan Arbuthnot, chairperson, of GTCNI said, “These awards recognise the huge contribution that our youth make here at home and away. We congratulate each and every one of our inspiring finalists.”

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