Local students honoured at Garda Youth Awards

A number of awards, including two Special Recognition awards, were recently presented to students at this year’s Garda Youth Awards, which are supported by Roscommon and Longford County Councils.

The winners in the ‘Community Safety’ category were the TY pupils of Castlerea Community College. The students were recognised for what the judges described was ‘a crime prevention or safety initiative or innovation which has made their community a safer place to live’. Nominated by Susan Gaynor of Castlerea Town Team, the students impressed the judges with their campaign, which highlighted the serious issue of “spiking”.

The students produced a TikTok video with the dual purpose of raising awareness and educating young people of the existence of the spiking issue in modern society. The video subsequently went viral, attracting over 280,000 views.

In the ‘Individual’ category, Aaron Cox was nominated by Linda Cox for his compassionate, gentle, and thoughtful nature in caring for his brother, Daire. In doing so, the young Loughglynn man has become an advocate for young people with disabilities and has positively influenced his peer grouping in this regard.

Nominated for the Group Award by Jonathan Cassidy for making a positive contribution to their community and making it a better place to live in, were the TY students of Scoil Mhuire, Strokestown. The group received a Certificate of Nomination for their support to the Strokestown Tidy Towns Group in the upkeep of the Famine Burial Grounds, the Pollinator Improvement Plan, and also organising clean-up days. Students Ruhaan Butt and Kate Cunningham, who were also nominated, raised €1,200 for their local primary schools, as well as assisting their local residents association in Tarmonbarry.

The winner of the ‘Special Achievement’ category was Lisacul teenager Latisha McCrudden, a young person who has ‘defied all the odds and whose commitment deserves recognition’, according to the judges. Nominated by her mother Susan McCrudden, Latisha has been instrumental in promoting the rights of travellers through her work with the Irish Traveller Movement national forum. She has also been a climate ambassador, addressing the Dáil on this very important issue for our nation.

Described as a positive role model for all members of the Traveller Community, during the Covid-19 epidemic Latisha wrote to the residents of a local nursing home and continues to visit and help elderly neighbours in her community. She has also assisted other young people by becoming a mentor with the adolescent mental health organisation Jigsaw.

Another local student nominated in the ‘Special Achievement’ category was Isabella Cook from Tarmonbarry, who was nominated by Rooskey Karate School for her “ability to regain confidence when faced with adversity and personal challenges”. Also nominated in this category was Jamie Webb from Loughglynn, who has overcome many challenges – from open heart surgery as an infant, to recovering from Leukemia of the bone marrow with aggressive medical interventions and treatment throughout.

A ‘Special Recognition Award’ also went to Roscommon Comhairle na nÓg. This group represents teenagers within the county, ensuring they have a voice in fighting against discrimination affecting young people, promoting good mental health among their peers, etc. The group have also focused on creating awareness and highlighting the issue of drug misuse as well as working on the provision of improved and enhanced youth facilities.

Each of the nominees were presented with their awards and Certificates of Nomination by Superintendent Seamus Boyle (Longford Community Engagement Functional Area) and Superintendent John Fitzgerald (Roscommon Community Engagement Functional Area). The Awards were also attended by Roscommon County Council’s Cathaoirleach Cllr John Keogh, Chief Executive Shane Tiernan, and Acting Director of Services Fiona Ní Chuinn.