Student Peace Advocates in Coláiste Mhuire Buttevant win first-ever Rotary Young Citizen Peacemaker Award
A group of pupils aged 15 and 16, who are peace advocates at CETB’s (Cork Education and Training Board) Coláiste Mhuire in Buttevant, have scooped the first-ever Rotary Young Citizen Peacemaker Award for their inspira-tional work tackling difficulties affecting fellow students.
The Peace Advocates surveyed all pupils in their school to find out what concerned them and discovered that issues where they needed support included online safety, phone and gaming overuse leading to sleep deprivation, anxiety, low self-esteem and depression. The Peace Advocacy Group raised the survey’s results with the school Principal who organised workshops with a forensic psychologist carrying out sessions with students and also parents. The Group is now in the process of training all second year students and their teachers with the aim to have all students in the school trained to be fully qualified Peace Advocates by 2020. They are also organising a Pride Day at the school where pupils can celebrate their diversity, taking pride in their uniqueness, diverse cultures, sporting communities, etc.
Mallow Rotary Club were so impressed with the work of the Peace Advocacy Group that they put them forward for the Rotary Young Citizen Peacemaker Award. The new Award reflects Rotary’s area of focus on Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution.
The Peace Advocates are delighted to be the first recipients of this new Award. Commenting at the announcement of their win, Aoibhe Jones said “It is an honour for all 157 Peace Advocates in Coláiste Mhuire to be nominated by Rotary as the first recipients of the new Rotary Young Citizens Peace-maker Award 2019. Our Peace Programme, founded by Jean Best, focuses on one’s quality of life, in our communities, our homes, our schools and in ourselves. We use the skills of purposeful listening and collaborative conversation to recognise, enable and empower our fellow students and ourselves to believe in the expertise of the young to help each other and resolve conflict. We want to sincerely thank Mallow Rotary Club for intro-ducing the Peace Prog-ramme to Ireland and for inviting us to the first ever two-day Peace Advocacy Conference in November 2017 where we had the privilege of being trained by Keith and Jean Best. We also want to thank Ms. Gail Gyves, our coord-inating teacher, who has worked with us on the project, and our Principal Mr. Donal O’ Sullivan and our Deputy Principal Ms. Carol O’ Mahony who have supported and encouraged our peace advocacy endeavours from day one. Their support enables us to embed a culture of student voice and student empowerment in our school and this has ensured the Peace Programme has started to flourish. Winning this award has been a great acknowledgement of our efforts and commitment to the Peace Programme.”
Rotary in Britain and Ireland President Debbie Hodge said: “The Peace Advocates are a real inspiration to us all with the important work they are carrying out, which they have initiated themselves, to help other students at their school deal with their concerns.”
On last Sunday 12th May, Five Peace Advocates travelled to the Rotary in Britain and Ireland Showcase (Conference) in Nottingham where they received a trophy and £500 to go towards their chosen project or good cause from BBC TV Presenter Ellie Crisell. These students were David Higgins, Paul O’Keeffe, Eoin O’Brien, Zoe Crowley and Aoibhe Jones.