On 4 November I received the National Garda Youth Award for Special Achievement at the Midlands Park hotel in Portlaoise. It was a day of recognition, empowerment and pride and was an honour to receive the award.
The Special Achievement award is for someone who has overcome difficult circumstances, defied all the odds and whose commitment deserves recognition. For the difficult circumstances I have overcome in my life so far include I am a domestic abuse child survivor having grown up in a domestic abuse home for the first fourteen years of my life.
I have also had a tumour removed on the long skull bone of the left side of my head and been diagnosed with Fibrous Dysplasia, which is a disease which weakens and erodes the good bone in my body and replaces it with fibrous tissue making it bad bone, and due to personal circumstances in my life I have overcome my battle with mental health, having contemplated taking my own life at the age of fourteen, by going to Pieta House and getting my life back on track.
Through all my life even going back to the very early years of my childhood I’ve always been a motivated person. Growing up in the home I grew up in also made me want to always ensure I was a strong independent woman in life. The achievements which contributed to me winning the National Garda Youth Award include: during secondary school I committed a lot of time and energy towards extra circular academic activities.
I completed a project called the Future of Sport which I competed in Scifest in Sligo twice with, BT Young Scientist in the RDS in Dublin, DCU in Dublin and UL in Limerick. I also got accepted into the Climate Ambassador programme for Ireland, and for my work through the year received the outstanding achievement award from the programme.
In transition year I completed the Gaisce Bronze, currently working on my silver now and the John Paul the Second award also. I also made sure to not let my academic commitments subside and with hard work got all As and Distinctions in my junior cert, Distinction in my Transition year programme and the points needed in my Leaving Cert to go on a pursue my dream to become a lawyer in University of Galway.
Along with school I am heavily involved in activism and politics having my eyes set on the 2028 election. I am currently a member of the Irish Traveller Movement youth forum, Minceirs Whiden youth forum, National Womens Council of Ireland, National Youth Assembly of Ireland, Spunout and a National CERV project which is looking at the impact of Covid 19 on children across the country and it will be national research information for all other European countries come next year.
In college since I’ve started in September, I am first year representative in the Law Society, Auditor of the Politics Society, Vice Auditor of the Minceirs Whiden Society and class representative in the Students’ Union.
I’ve also spoken in the Oireachtas last October, I spoke in the Gresham hotel in Dublin at a Rosa event this April, I was a panellist on the young Traveller changemaker event during Traveller pride week in the summer and spoke at a national conference in collaboration with the HSE and Sligo Traveller group on my educational journey, but also my mental health battle and journey.
Overall, my winning of the National Garda Youth Award can bring a sense to people that your life can be at such a low point but that there is good days after these bad days, hence the rainbow after the rain.
Life can be extremely hard and unfair at times, but for me personally, the young girl in me that was put down by the person that’s meant to love and protect her the most in life, strives forward to say you can carve your own path in life even if it was not carved out for you.