‘Our young people are the real champions for change’ was the message from Longford Chamber of Commerce President Niamh Donlon when she spoke at Aras an Chontae during the presentation of prizes for a National Schools Disability Awareness Quiz.
The initiative, organised to raise awareness of disability, was a collaboration between Longford Chamber of Commerce and Co Longford Public Participation Network (PPN) disability network.
Siobhán Cronogue, PPN Development Officer said, “The aim of the quiz was to bring awareness and education to the youth of our community and the response has been overwhelming.”
Cathaoirleach Luie McEntire welcomed the winning classes to Aras an Chontae and noted how great it was to see agencies, services and the community working together to raise awareness at a young age about all disabilities not just the visible ones.
Ciaran Murphy, Senior Executive Officer, Longford County Council, introduced Pat Maloney, St Christopher’s to speak on behalf of the PPN Disability Network.
Pat spoke about active citizenship and said, “The PPN is so important as it gives people with disabilities an equal opportunity to feed into Local Government and be included and empowered to influence plans and policies being developed that will affect their lives now and in the future.”
Pat McNeill, who uses the services of St Christopher’s, said, “I enjoy being part of the PPN and I am consulted on matters that are important to me such as the condition of the footpaths and access issues. I helped co-design the quiz and I’m delighted to be here for the presentation to the winning classes.”
Niamh Donlon, President of the Chamber of Commerce thanked all the national schools for their entries and announced the winning classes who were 1st place 5/6th class Melview National School, 2nd place 6th class Scoil Eimear and 3rd place 5th class St Teresa’s National School, Killoe.
She said the level of participation and high standard from all schools was very impressive.
“We must remember our young people are the real champions for change and so often we look to adults to lead by example but time and time again we see young people taking the lead on important issues. It is so refreshing to see your enthusiasm, your determination to ensure equality for all, and your vision for a better Longford. You're all a credit to schools, families and friends.”
Niamh Rushe, St Christopher’s presented the trophies to the winners while Niamh Donlon closed the reception with a quote from PPN Disability Rep Maria Keelty:
“We all jointly have the ability to make change, education is the trick, if you have the ability to set any goal or achievement, it's reachable, all you should do it believe in yourself and others.”
Pictured above: Melview NS: Longford PPN Development Officer Siobhán Cronogue, Longford Chamber of Commerce President Niamh Donlon, Longford County Council Cathaoirleach Cllr Luie McEntire. Patrick McNeil. Niamh Rushe. Teachers Ms. Kearney, Ms Sarah Gilchriest. Photo: Shelley Corcoran