St Benildus College

The President’s Award is the most prestigious award in Ireland for young people aged 15 to 25. Gaisce is an old Irish word which means ‘a great achievement’. The award programme is a challenge from the President of Ireland to young people to set and pursue personal goals in four different areas of activity; Community Involvement, Personal Skills, Physical Recreation and an Adventure Journey, with the support of an adult leader.

This year, over 60 Transition Year students have signed up to undertake the Gaisce Bronze Medal Award and 2 fifth year students to take the Silver Award. The Bronze award involves the students doing 13 hours community service, 13 hours on developing a new personal skill and 13 hours participating in a new physical activity.  

They will also have to do an overnight adventure trip as well as an additional 13 hours of their choice from the above. The Silver award involves the students doing double the workload.

Examples of community involvement are working in local charity shops, volunteering in local community groups and working in mentoring programmes within the school. Examples of new personal skills involve students learning a musical instrument, learning sign language or completing a first aid course. Students do a range of activities to fulfill their physical recreation requirement such as attend the college gym, join a new sports group or do a new activity. All activities are done outside of school hours and in the students own time.

The adventure journey takes the students on a two day hike along the Wicklow Way from Marley Park to Roundwood, stopping overnight in Knockree Youth Hostel. The students take this challenge seriously and have an enjoyable 40km walk. 

Gaisce is a worthwhile and enjoyable activity that teaches students to be aware of broader issues in the community and to develop themselves physically and socially. Over the past number of years we have maintained a high number of Bronze Award medalist and a steady number of Gold and Silver medalists