The community volunteering aspect of the Adventure & Leadership Gap Year Program sees students work with young people, community groups, local farms and animal rescue.
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 Whitehill Eco Farm and Nature School in Ballyshannon, Co. Donegal. Our projects at Whitehill farm are always a lot of fun and truly immersive cultural experiences. This is a real dive into traditional country life in Ireland so be prepared to get dirty! Projects range from creating living willow scuptures and forts for the children that attend the nature school, to harvesting vegtables for the gap year house, to planting native trees, working in the polytunnels and harvesting berries to make jams (to name but a few). The farm has been in the McIntyre family for several hundred years and they are happy to share their history and welcome gappers into their home.
- 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. Many of the Liquid Therapy students have been particpating in the program for years. It means the world to the kids to have there surf season extended into September and October with the help of our gappers 'Big Brother / Big Sister After School Surf Program'. We find that our gappers learn nearly as much about surfing from the Liquid Therapy students as they do on actual surf lessons! Upon completing the 5 week afterschool surf program, our gappers host the Liquid Therapy students and their families to Bundrowes (our beautiful student house) for a hosted reception with food, games and chat (all organized by the gappers of course!) Please note that due to water temperature in Ireland our Liquid Therapy Big Brother / Bis Sister Program only runs on our Fall Program.
- Volunteering with Hungry Horse Outside animal shelter in Longford. Here students help brush 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. If you like horses you'll love working at Hungry Horse Outside (last count they had 1,000 horses!)
- Students will organize Beach Clean-Ups with Clean Coasts Ireland, 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.