TWO students have been invited by the County Manager to present their award-winning project in front of the Louth Older People’s Forum this week.
Louth County Manager Conn Murray has paid tribute to Ciara Rafferty and Emily O’Reilly, took third prize nationally in a section of the BT Young Scientist competition.
Ciara and Emily are both second year students in St Vincent’s Secondary school in Dundalk. Their project “What is the value of Dundalk’s Age Friendly community initiatives?” won third prize nationally in the Social and Behavioural Sciences section.
It involved four months of study, surveying and visiting many of the area’s unique Age Friendly cornerstones. These include the Great Northern Haven (assisted living), The Nestling Project (social inclusion), Cuidigh Linn (support for older people), Cooley Active Retirement Group and the art project at St Oliver Plunkett Hospital.
“We discovered through observations, questionnaires, interviews and analysis that these initiatives have a real and lasting value for the elderly participants, and also volunteers and school pupils,” said Emily.
The seeds of their idea were sown way back in 5th class at Scoil Mhuire na nGael in Bay Estate.
“We were fortunate to be part of the inter-generational project which was founded in the school by Martina Rafferty, which meant that we visited St Oliver Plunkett Community Hospital every three weeks,” said Ciara.
“We did arts and crafts, had music quizzes and bingo, but most importantly, really got to know the residents there.”
“The experience shaped our understanding and gave us a positive image of older people.
“We forged new friendships with the residents in the Community Hospital which we treasure to this day. We have never stopped going to see them.”
The students extended their thanks to Mark Dearey who provided them with the time and resources needed to carry out their work.
Ms Rafferty, principal at Scoil Mhuire na nGael, founded the project six years ago.
“The project forms part of our Social, Personal and Health Education curriculum and has proved to be a fantastic success for all involved,” she said.
“Ciara and Emily kept up the visits to St Oliver’s after they went into secondary school, and are still involved in the project as part of our volunteer corps.”