Gaisce – The President’s Award is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, having been founded by President Hillery in 1984 as a national personal development programme for young people between the ages of 15 and 25 in Ireland. Thirty years and four Presidents later, over 300,000 Awards have been achieved, making Gaisce one of the best recognised and most prestigious youth awards available in Ireland. Last year more than 20,000 young people accepted President Michael D Higgins’ direct challenge to dream big and fulfill their potential.
But perhaps you haven’t taken part in Gaisce before, or maybe you haven’t even heard about it. Why should you get involved? Here are our top five reasons to get involved in Gaisce!
1. Decided by you, for you
The Gaisce programme is self-directed: each participant chooses their own activities (with the assistance of a President’s Award Leader or PAL, of which there are more than 1,500 across Ireland – big thanks to them!). This means that everybody’s challenges and goals for achieving their Award are entirely different and entirely personalised: you won’t get stuck doing something that you won’t enjoy. It’s up to you to try new activities out and find something that you want to stick at and improve while completing your Gaisce Award.
This also means that you’re not competing against anybody else: it’s simply a challenge that you set yourself to reach your own goals and improve at something that you want to do. There is no time restriction and no pressure from anybody else: it’s entirely up to you to make sure that you get involved in and spend time doing your chosen activities. After all, it’s you who will be getting the Award!
2. Open to anyone
The Gaisce Award isn’t only available to a limited group of people: it is open to any young person between the age of 15 and 25 in Ireland. A whole variety of organisations now offer the Gaisce Award programme, so you can get involved through any of them: maybe your school or college, but also through your local youth group, Foróige, or local volunteering groups such as a youth café.
Once you have registered with Gaisce, and have been assigned a President’s Award Leader by the organisation that you are participating through, you select your own activities and can get to work on them. This means that if you have any specific time, disability, or other special requirements you are free to choose activities that work for you and that you know are challenging while also being achievable. Once you’ve agreed those activities with your PAL, you’re good to go and start working towards those goals.
You can also receive a Gaisce Award if you live in Northern Ireland: if you register and complete your Award through the Duke of Edinburgh programme, you can choose to receive either a DoE Award or a Gaisce Award once you have achieved the standard.
3. Helping you to get places
Having been around for thirty years and with the President of Ireland as the patron of the Award, a Gaisce Award is recognised nationally and internationally as a huge achievement. It shows employers and others that you have the ability to set your own challenges and goals, and then can work consistently to achieve those aims. It demonstrates a level of self-motivation and hard work that is highly valued by employers, and so looks great on a CV.
What’s more, the Gaisce Award isn’t just recognised in Ireland but internationally as well. Gaisce is affiliated with the International Award, which runs a similar programme in a large number of countries around the world. So when employers abroad see a Gaisce Award on your CV, they’ll know about the type of work and effort that you put in to achieving it.
4. Rewarding experience
If you don’t believe us — listen to what people who have achieved a Gaisce Award have to say! All of these comments come from young people who have achieved an Award:
‘Gaining confidence and stuff like that so to me that was the most beneficial part and the thing I learned most from about myself.’
‘The achievement is huge. And it does increase your self-esteem.’
‘It’s a lifetime achievement: to challenge yourself, to see how far you could push yourself, … and [to discover] where your limits are.’
‘I believe in myself – as corny as that sounds! The harder the challenges, the more determined I am to finish them and to complete them.’
‘I liked looking back at the year and saying that I actually achieved something new.’
‘The independence is brilliant: there is no feeling like it, knowing that you can pull something off.’
5. You can register at any time!
There’s no closing date to get registered with Gaisce! Once you have found a PAL who is willing to take you on and help you to complete your Award, you can get started by registering on the Gaisce website: www.gaisce.ie. After that, it’s up to you to complete the requirements for each activity in your own time, and to keep in touch with your PAL as you do. You can work on your activities at any time of year, and your activities don’t need to be carried out in consecutive weeks, so you can make the Gaisce Award work around your life.
Are you doing the Gaisce Award already?
Gaisce would like to hear from you! We want to hear your stories and see your photos from your time doing Gaisce.
If you’d like to get in touch with Gaisce:
- Send us a message on Facebook: facebook.com/GaisceAward
- Tweet us: @GaisceAward
- Send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org