A group of secondary school students from Ballina who made a video to help save lives on the roads and a Castlebar teenager who has not let her lack of vision hold her back were among the winners at the first Garda National Youth Awards ceremony in Portlaoise on Saturday, April 27 last.
Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan and Assistant Garda Commissioner Anne-Marie McMahon presented 22 awards to more than 100 young people aged 13 to 21 in recognition of their contribution to making their communities better places to live.
Sara McFadden is a registered blind person but has never let visual impairment define her or limit her future options.
“Sara shows that there are other opportunities for those who want to travel the road less travelled,” the adjudicators remarked.
Sara has helped others facing tremendous challenges in their lives, she has learned to play camogie for her local club Ballyvary and was the first visually impaired person to become a rally navigator.
Nominators Helen Gannon and PJ McDonagh of Breaffy cited Sara’s positive attitude and hard work as the key to her realising her ambitions and the judging panel said they were “equally impressed” and declared her a Special Award Winner.
The students from Moyne College in Ballina were named the Community Safety Award winners after creating an advert to tackle road safety. The advert showed a student leaving school with his headphones on, meaning he cannot hear oncoming traffic. He steps onto the road and is knocked down by a vehicle driven by his mother. The advert also shows the example of a teacher asking the student to take off his earphones before leaving the school with friends and getting into his mother’s waiting car. The message behind the advert is: Look, Listen, Live.
Teachers Aiden McLoughlin and Tara Doherty revealed in the nomination that many students confessed they wore headphones and found themselves in dangerous situations. The judging panel said the video had the potential to save many lives.