Gaisce – The President’s Award is the most prestigious Award in Ireland for young people aged 15 to 25. We are delighted to have the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins as patron of the Award programme.
This year, 2014, sees RCS TY students embrace the An Gaisce Award for the first time! Their adventure journey took place this week with climbing Mt Leinster, walking for 10’s of KMs and kayaking downstream from Graigenamanagh to St. Mullisn not to mention sleeping in a scout hall and preparing their own dinners! Ronan Prendergast said afterwards that “it was hard work but well worth it!!”
The Award is a self-directed personal development programme in which participants are supported and mentored by a more experienced person, a volunteer, a President’s Award Leader (PAL), to set and achieve a personal challenge over a period of time.
Gaisce is an old Irish word which means ‘a great achievement’ and it is in the spirit of this meaning that the programme challenges young people to set and pursue personal goals in four different areas of activity:
- Community Involvement
- Personal Skills
- Physical Recreation
- Adventure Journey
There are 3 levels to the Award programme, starting with Bronze and progressing to Silver or Gold with the time and maturity required, increasing as the participant moves from Bronze towards the Gold Award. The minimum period to complete the Bronze Award is 26 weeks and for Gold this increases to 78 weeks.
Participation in the Award provides an opportunity to grow and develop with the assistance and support of a President’s Award Leader (PAL) during that vital transition period from young person to young adult. In embarking on the Award, the PAL works with the participant to select their activities and their goals for each. As the participant progresses with the activities, the PAL supports and mentors the participants and helps them overcove any obstacles.
Upon completion of the Award Programme, each participant receives a certificate signed by the President of Ireland and a commemorative medal. Gold Awards are presented annually by the President of Ireland, three regional Award ceremonies are held each year to present the Silver Awards and Bronze Awards are presented at local level through the organisation providing the programme.
The programme operates successfully in both the formal and non-formal education sector in many youth and education organisations across Ireland, prospering in the school sector where it operates in both the Transition Year and Leaving Certificate Applied Programmes. The Award is increasingly available in youth organisations such as groups with disabilities or special needs groups, prisons, youth justice projects, young travellers, uniformed organisations and third level colleges. In industry the programme is operated by a number of organisations in support attaining enhanced job skills and improve employability.
Our goal is to make the Gaisce programme accessible to as many young people as possible throughout Ireland. Our experience shows us that the Award programme is flexible and can be adopted by many different types of organisations and youth bodies in a variety of contexts.