Limerick Youth Community Games present €9,000 cheque

Almost six months ago the Limerick Youth Community Games committee and I sat down together for one of our regular meetings. We were once again deciding on how we could fundraise. But as we bounced ideas back and forth there was a unanimous decision to raise funds for another charity. As a youth group, we wanted to fundraise for a charity that was helping youth and we came up with many worthy choices. But as Mental Health is one of the leading concerns for young people in Ireland and because of the ever increasing negative media attention that poor mental health was receiving at the time we decided to raise funds for Headstrong to help them achieve their earnest goals. Youth mental health is a proclamation that is often stigmatised in the Irish media but we wanted to show other young people that it is something that we all take seriously. As a youth group who do voluntary work helping to organise events for children, positivity and enthusiasm are some of the traits that we all must muster up no matter the circumstances. In this way we felt that Headstrong was the perfect organisation to collaborate with as it advocates the message of positive mental health and gives a new light on it for young people in Ireland.

Most of us are busy students studying in second or third level but giving the project our time was something we knew we would not regret. We started off the event by launching it in March of this year. Former international rugby player David Wallace showed up to give his support which was a great lift to us all as he is a huge sporting inspiration. Some of the Limerick County Footballers namely Pa Ranahan, Stephen Lavin, James O’Meara and Danny Neville also arrived on the night. Sarah Lavin a current Irish hurdler record holder spoke on the night as well. Getting this support from such admired sports people really gave us all a huge boost and our energy levels were revived for the next step.

We were very fortunate in that Fitzsimons Printers helped us achieve our success by sponsoring all our printing needs for the event. We even had a huge poster which varied in location during the weeks coming up to the Big Climb. Mary Fitzgerald sponsored us with walkie talkies and Fleming Medical sponsored us with two Medicare Team Adventure Kits which helped us ensure the safety of all our climbers. We were also greatly helped by Liam Woulfe, a successful entrepreneur and community man from Adare, who inspired us to take on the climb and gave us every support possible to ensure we were did not leave any stone unturned. To all these sponsors we are very grateful and much indebted.

Finally on the 21st of April the day had arrived and two big buses full of yapping youth headed from Limerick to Mayo where our faith would be sealed. The rain poured from the heavens and radio correspondence from the foot of the mountain was detailing a forecast that did not look promising. The safety of our climbers was number one priority and therefore we would have to make the call if we could indeed dare to Conquer the Climb for Youth Mental Health.

However, just as the buses arrived in the Croagh Patrick car park the sun started to peep through the clouds and the thundering rain miraculously stopped. Once everyone was registered we embarked on the Croagh Patrick Climb. We had an age range from 8 years old to 78 years old but no matter, 144 climbers reached the summit of the famous Croagh Patrick. A local and well respected priest Fr. Chris O’Donnell said Mass on the summit and had us all in fits of laughter during the sermon. However, as we were reflecting we did not easily forget the mental challenges that so many young people have to try to conquer on an ongoing basis. Looking back now I could easily compare the tempestuous and uncertain weather conditions in the very early hours of the Sunday morning to that of a turbulent mind. But just as we kept the bright side out as we waited in fearful anticipation so too can young people who may be sitting in a similar situation – fearful of the future or unsettled by the present. Our sacrifice seemed subliminal to the daily struggle for mental peace and well-being for many young people. Croagh Patrick gave us the opportunity to conquer a climb that at times we struggled with but by overcoming it we knew that it is possible to conquer our demons and disasters that surface so often in life. For that realisation we are forever grateful. On Sunday 23rd June we presented a cheque for €9,000 to Headstrong. We are a relatively small group but growing in numbers. Looking back on our first meeting with just a handful of youth members, it seems almost impossible to have raised such a sum of money in a short space of time. We knew that success was only going to be achieved with team work and the old reliable hard work. With youth, energy and enthusiasm on our side we can safely say that the climb was a phenomenal success pulling people all across Limerick together.

We conquered the Climb for Youth Mental Health and Limerick Youth Community Games with our family and friends and found a new metaphor that we hope will give others the strength to face their own mountains in life. Croagh Patrick was indeed a challenge but Headstrong is the friend that can help you conquer the climb. We did so and now know that so can you. Go raibh míle maith agaibh Headstrong ar son na hoibre mhaith atá á dhéanamh agaibh do na dhaoine óga ar fud an tíre bhig seo.