Community Volunteering: Integrating and Giving back
Done right, volunteering has a meaningful and positive impact on both the volunteer and local community.
In return for their time and energy students will gain a sense of achievement, feel part of the local community, learn new skills, meet a diverse group of people who will help widen their world view and most of all make new friends.
On the other hand, the local community gets access to much needed help and support across a range of partnerships and initiatives that would otherwise not be possible.
Volunteering is an important value for us at Irish Gap Year. It helps us to integrate our students into the local community, build goodwill and give back to the people and places that have given us so much.
Community Volunteering Projects with Irish Gap Year
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Bundoran and Ballyshannon Neighbourhood Youth Project
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 mental-health groups, drop-in services, mini-business projects, outdoor activities, arts & crafts, drama and citizenship programs.
Hungry Horse Outside
This animal shelter in Longford hosts up to 700 horses, sheep, cows and other vulnerable animals on any given day. Run by husband-and-wife Mick and Hilary, the animals are rehabilitated with the ultimate goal of being rehomed.
At Hungry Horse students help to care for the animals by brushing, herding, mucking-out and maintaining horse stables among other rough and tumble jobs. 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.
Always a favourite among our students, Liquid Therapy’s professional special education team trains our gappers to work one-on-one in a weekly after school program with Irish children who have additional needs, in a therapeutic capacity through surfing.
Many of the Liquid Therapy students have been participating in the program over the summer and it means the world to the kids to have their 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 for a beach party 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 / Big Sister Program only runs on our Fall Program.
Castle Park Project
In 2020, Irish Gap Year began the Castle Park Project, a community green space and eco-park purpose designed and built by our gap year students for the local community in Bundoran. The park hosts ecological and sustainability workshops throughout the year in yoga, gardening and a range of other holistic projects designed to raise ecological awareness and teach new skills to both our students and the greater community.
There are always plenty of jobs to be done maintaining the park and building new infrastructure such as raised beds, pathways and watering systems. This is a wonderful and peaceful place right on the Atlantic coast where our students learn many new skills alongside members of the local community.
Clean Coasts Ireland
Clean Coasts Ireland is the national Irish body for removing and disposing of marine debris on Irish beaches. Being at the end of the Gulf Stream means that ghost nets, rope and other commercial fishing and shipping debris are prone to finding their way to our otherwise pristine beaches. These clean-ups often see tonnes of rubbish removed from remote beaches. Our students work with the Donegal County Council and local coastal communities to organize collection of rubbish and materials needed for the clean-up.
Green Education Ireland
Irish Gap Year is a founding member of Green Education Ireland, a collaborative effort within Ireland’s educational community to work toward reducing C02 emissions associated with education-travel.
‘GEI’ aims to empower both students and the local community to take action against climate change through innovative educational programming, participation in local C02 sequestering projects and through inward investment into green spaces in and around the community.
The shared values of education, community and a respect for the natural world bring us together for a wide range of projects that vastly reduce the CO2 foot print of our programs.
Tattie Hoaker Organic Farm
Volunteering on a local organic farm as part of a series of workshops where students learn about how our food is brought from ‘farm to fork’, investigating issues of sustainability in food production and learning about bio-diversity in the local landscape. The workshops are led by Environmental and Soil Science Dr. Agnieszka Piwowarczyk.