Roisin McArdle from Dillonstown here in Louth won a gold star award for her project on mental health at The Aldi Foróige Youth Citizenship Awards which took place in Citywest Hotel and Conference Centre recently.
Roisin lives in a young community in Dillonstown and was conscious of the amount of young people that may need support in relation to mental health.
Roisin designed the 'It's All in Your Head' initiative which can be adapted to teach people of all ages the importance of maintaining positive mental health and improving peoples' knowledge of mental illness.
The initiative addresses the issue through self-awareness workshops with her Foróige Club, a Public Positivity campaign and a primary school mental health gratitude and mindfulness programme. From managing the initiative Roisin McArdle learned that you don't need to be in a position of power to make a change to your community.
FYI Foróige Club realised that their community lacked awareness of the meaning of diversity and did not appreciate the uniqueness of individuals. The group wanted to demonstrate how each person is different and that their talents and skills are what make them special. The group gave talks to groups in the community about diversity and being proud of who you are.
They ran a facebook campaign highlighting the beauty of diversity. The young people also created a community art display where people wrote their skills, talents and interests on a lollipop stick and they arranged the individual pieces to spell 'in diversity there is strength'.
After a discussion about the improvements needed in their community, the members of Dillonstown Foróige Club felt there was a need to generate Christmas spirit in the local area. They noticed that, although there were festive events taking place, there was no event that involved the community as a whole. The young people decided to organise a Carol Service, and invite performers from schools and other groups in the locality. While planning the event, they secured permission to use the local church, sourced the sound equipment, and baked cakes for people attending. The Carol Service was a great success, and the young people felt the entire community benefitted from the event.
Louth's Jason Nolan learned about the statistics of cancer and the means of preventing it by catching it at an early stage to improve outcomes for patients. Jason volunteers in his local Cancer Society shop in order to support the fundraising efforts of the charity. He continues his support through participating in a 15km run organised by his school in aid of The Hospice Foundation. Jason has given presentations to various groups in the community to raise awareness about the signs of cancer.
Fellow Wee County girl Doireann McElroy realised that a significant number of young people have body image issues, and has undertaken a project to address this need. After surveying other girls in her school, she found that over half of them were not confident about how they looked. She researched the subject and has given presentations to groups in her school and at her Foróige Club.
As part of the ongoing project, Doireann has designed and printed posters and bookmarks which promote a positive attitude towards body image, and dispel beauty myths created by the media. She has also created a Flipagram slideshow which she hopes people will share online.