GAISCE Gold Award Holder and President’s Award Leader (PAL) Karen Hardiman from Templemore has been chosen to represent Gaisce and Ireland at the upcoming International Gold Event (IGE) in Kenya this September.
She will be joined there by fellow attendee Eoin Kenny, outgoing regional Youth Representative Josie McGee and past attendee and current event organiser Janice Mustafova. All four are gold awardees who are actively involved in youth engagement and the promotion of Gaisce throughout different regions in Ireland. The IGE event is organised on a tri-annual basis.
It will attract over 200 delegates from more than 100 countries and territories. It is one of the most important events in the annual calendar of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Association (IAA).
The purpose of the event is to bring Gold Award holders aged between 20 and 30 years together to engage in the governance and policy of the award while discussing social, political and economic issues to better prepare and empower youth to positively influence the societies they live in.
The attendees will complete a number of physical activities throughout the duration of the event including rock climbing, hiking and white water rafting while the service project will see them refurbish four local primary schools. Themed ‘Each One, Reach One’, the event will encourage each attendee to use what they gain from the IGE experience to reach one goal they have set so as to be of value for themselves, their community, their country and the world.
Speaking on behalf of the President’s Award Kenya, Africa’s Regional Director Edwin Kimani stated ‘the programme is formed of four pillars: Voluntary Service, Physical Recreation, Skills Development and Adventurous Journey that will help youth unlock their potential, develop self-reliance, social awareness, leadership and good citizenship’.
The IGE also aims to inspire and instruct those who have attained the highest level of the Award in their country to undertake leadership roles nationally, regionally and globally. The first event of this kind known as The Commonwealth Gold Expedition was hosted by Canada in 1967 and its emphasis was on expeditionary ventures.
Since then the event has grown to encompass soft skills training, service projects, cultural exchange events with a strong emphasis on character building and leadership development. Key activities during the event shall include the Youth Forum where attendees will interact with key stakeholders including HRH Prince Edward regarding the future development of the award and the election of regional Youth Representatives for the International Council (IC).
Gaisce-the President’s Award is a member of the International Award Association (IAA) and has been operating in Ireland since 1985. The Duke of Edinburgh Award was founded in 1956 by his Royal Highness Prince Philip, Lord Hunt, the leader of the first successful ascent of Everest and the German Educationalist Kurt Hahn who believed in the philosophy of holistic education.
In recent days the attendees were kindly welcomed as guests of honour at the Kenyan Embassy in Dublin where they were informed about the interesting history, culture and wildlife of the host nation. Further information about the award in Ireland can be found at www.gaisce.ie or about the International Gold Event at www.intaward.org/ige.
Speaking to the Tipperary Star, Karen said she attended Our Lady’s seconday school, and became interested in the Gaisce Awards while studying at St Patrick’s College Dublin.
“It’s about personal development. It’s a challenge for yourself,” said Karen. “We’ll be hiking, white water rafting, mountain biking, rock climbing, and camping for a few days, along with service projects helping in the slums of Nairobi.”
These projects will see the volunteers refurbishing classrooms in poor districts of Kenya’s capital.
Karen will have the honour of meeting Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, along with the International Patron of the event, the Queen of England’s youngest son, the Earl of Wessex, Prince Edward.
To earn her Gold Gaisce Award, Karen had to undergo a gruelling 100km hike through the Wicklow Mountains.
The hike tested orienteering, map-reading, and physical stamina.
Karen was personally presented with her award by President Mary McAleese in Dublin Castle.