Our Community Volunteering program, as part of the Adventure & Leadership Gap Year Program, sees students work with young people, the elderly and the natural environment.
Volunteering has a meaningful and positive impact on both the community and the volunteer.
In return for their time and energy students reap huge benefits. They gain a sense of achievement, feel part of a community, discover new skills, meet a diverse group of people who will help widen their world view and most of all make new friends.
Community Volunteering projects with Irish Gap Year include:
- Working with the Bundoran and Ballyshannon Neighbourhood Youth Project (NYP) run by Foróige, the national youth organisation. The NYP work with young people from ages 10 to 18 years and their families providing youth development and family support services to the local community. The students work with the local youth leader and the young people on a variety of programs including after school groups, teenage health groups, drop-in services, mini-business projects, outdoor activities, arts & crafts, drama and citizenship programs.
- Volunteering at The Organic Centre in Rossinver, Co Leitrim. This is a volunteer led organic garden farm that was established in 1995. The Organic Centre runs a number of courses and volunteer led projects year-round all governed by the ethos of an organic and holistic approach to farming and food production. Through their volunteer work with the Centre students will learn about the close relationship between all parts of the production system, from soil and ending with the food on our plates. Typical tasks will include helping with the apple harvest, preparing soil for the winter months, learning about composting and foraging.
- Undertaking regular visits to older residents at Bundoran’s Ozanam House, which is a home for the elderly operated by the St Vincent de Paul charity. Students gain great insight in to how life was in the town through their interaction and conversations with these older members of the local community. The elderly are often over-looked in our society despite the wealth of knowledge and experience they can offer younger folk. Students can interact with the residents of the nursing home in a structured and supervised manner with a group led project tasking the students to record the stories and local histories of these senior members of the community.
Liquid Therapy volunteering allows students to be trained by our professional special education team to work one-on-one with young autistic Irish children in a therapeutic capacity through surfing.
Students will balance their hands-on volunteering with an exciting range of outdoor adventure actives including learning to surf, stand-up-paddle, sea-kayaking and trekking – All in the spectacular beauty of Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way.
- Volunteering with Hungry Horse Outside animal shelter in Longford. Here students help bruch out, herd, muck-out and maintain horse stables. Additionally students will vaccinate sheep, herd goats and lend a hand at the dozens of daily jobs that Mick and Hilary take on every day.
- Students will organize Beach Clean-Ups with the local Bundoran/Ballyshannon youth group, these clean-ups often see 60+ bags of rubbish removed from remote beaches. Student leaders will work with the Donegal County Council to organize collection of rubbish and materials needed for the cleanup.
The aim of the Community Volunteering is to allow the students become a very real part of the local community and not just visiting observers.
Volunteering allows the students to challenge their own prejudices and preconceptions, it causes them to engage fully with the local community and to also engage with their natural physical environment.