Gaisce – or The Presidents Award, continues to play a very important role in school life.
2017-18 was another eventful year for the Gaisce Programme in St Patrick’s, especially as we have five silver medallists. This internationally recognised award is the highest possible award a young person can achieve in Ireland and it is modelled on the Duke of Edinburgh Award in England. The Duke himself came up with the idea for this award in 1956 following a visit to his old school during which the Principal pointed out to him that young people are constantly painted in a very negative light by the media and get nothing but bad press. He was wondering if there was anything that Prince Phillip could do to change this, and so the DofE Award was born. In Ireland, the Gaisce Award was first established in 1985 by the then President, Dr. Patrick Hillery.
The award works on the basis of a personal challenge set by the individual participant, and agreed with the President’s Award Leader (PAL). There are 4 different challenge areas; Community Involvement, Personal Skill, Physical Recreation and Adventure Journey. To earn the award, each participant must complete a minimum of 13 hours, (1 hour per week); in each of the 4 challenge areas and a further 13 hours in a preferred area over a time period of 6 months. Some participants decide to build on an activity already tried. For example, this year, certain students decided to improve their musical or IT skills. Others challenged themselves to improve their physical fitness by walking, cycling, swimming or playing rugby. Part of the Gaisce challenge requires each participant to undertake at least one new activity to earn the award. This year we had students who volunteered their time to work in charity shops, to help out an elderly neighbour and help train local under-age sporting teams.
Each year the Bronze participants take part in a long Gaisce Hike. On 14th of May 2017 a group went down to Knockree Youth Hostel in Co. Wicklow and hiked 20km on the first day. The meeting place was at the school on Sunday morning at 9:00am and the group took the bus down to the hostel. They dropped their bags to the hostel and set off up the Wicklow Way.
It takes about 3 or 4 hours to get to the top and roughly the same length of time to get back down, stopping for a lunch at the top where the students enjoyed the wonderful vista of Dublin from on high. This group were particularly lucky as they enjoyed sunny weather for the majority of the walk.
The next day was a short five km hike to the bus and home. Thanks to Ms McCarthy and Ms Corkery for organising.