The Garda Youth Awards, at Divisional and National level, celebrates outstanding young people between 13 and 21 years, and recognises the good work they do throughout their communities. 

Last evening, Thursday 23rd March, we had the pleasure of attending the Laois Offaly Division Awards which took place in the Killeshin Hotel. Young people who have worked for their community, supported their families in times of difficulty, come through extremely difficult circumstances themselves, gone beyond the expected for the good of others – the winners of those nominated were awarded last night.

There were 4 Individual Awards. One of these went to our 2nd year student Sean Ryan, who supports his twin brother who attends Kolbe Special School and has helped to fundraise for their needs. We were very proud of Sean last night who, like many who work selflessly for others, doesn’t seek praise or attention, he just gets on with it.

There were 4 Group Awards. Again we had a winner in this section – 3 students from our school Odhran Phelan, Callum Conroy and Dylan Browne (all TY students) along with  Ciara Kennedy from Scoil Chriost Ri, were called up to accept their Group Award for volunteering weekly with the All Inclusive Sports Group. These young people make it possible for young people their own age to participate in sports and activities which they would not be able to do without their support. 

Finally, in the Special Award Category, a young man, Ashraf Suleiman Muhumed, who arrived in the Montague Hotel in January 2022 and enrolled in the CBS, was recognised for the amazing resilience which he had shown since he left his home in Somalia when he was just 15 years old. Ashraf and his classmates were first kidnapped from their school by the Al-Shabab militia, and taken to a camp where they were tied, beaten and denied water. After 3 weeks he escaped and made it to his home. But his parents feared for his safety as the militia came looking for him so he fled to Mogadishu where he got the necessary papers to travel and left Somalia alone, on his way to safety. When he reached Turkey he walked for 10 days into Greece and lived off his wits there for a year and 3 months. He was then sent to Germany and under the EU Refugee Policy was sent to Ireland with Refugee Status – still alone. From what we have heard from news reports of the dangerous crossings, the dangers of those preying on vulnerable young people and the conditions of camps, Ashraf’s ability to survive and still keep his head together at the young age of 17, is a tribute to his resilience. To meet him is to meet a very shy, humble and gentle young man. We are very proud to be associated with Ashraf’s transition into Ireland and wish him the best of luck in a life he deserves.