Back to school

It’s true that there are a lot of unsung young heroes out there: kids barely out of – or still at – school who selflessly give their time and energy to causes that help others, with little thought of reward.

Well, we’re here put a stop to that – in the nicest way possible. We believe that positive efforts should be recognised and highlighted – not just to reward the schools and students behind them but to show that there are people trying to improve their society and that their efforts are having a positive effect.

Which is why today we’re shining the spotlight on two recent events – both school-related but both celebrating slightly different achievements. However, they are also both welcome reminders that, despite the pressures of work, study and dozens of other everyday challenges, the spirit of volunteering is still very much alive among the younger generation.

It was a few weeks ago that Action Cancer and our friends at Centra NI got together to host their annual Health Action Awards in the rather impressive surroundings of Titanic Belfast. Their aim? To highlight Northern Ireland’s best health promotion projects in nursery, primary and secondary schools and colleges.

You can find out more about the winners and Action Cancer’s Health Action initiative, which is the inspiration for the awards, at, but possibly the most impressive statistic in this news story is that close to 60 schools were recognised at the awards.

Also school-related was the event held at the end of July by Junior Achievement Ireland and Musgrave, an event that recognised volunteers who participated in the Junior Achievement Volunteers programme during the school year 2014/2015.

In total, 18 volunteers inspired and motivated 504 students in 14 local schools this year. How? Well Junior Achievement programmes, as you may know, help to create a culture of enterprise within the education system, giving young people guidance in preparing for the world of work, and helping to train them in communications, managing their money and preparing for interviews, as well as encouraging them to develop more specific maths and science skills.

These aren’t new initiatives. The Health Action Awards have been around since 2003 and almost 500,000 young people have taken part since its launch, while Junior Achievement Ireland ( has been helping our future workforce since the 1990s.

But these initiatives, and many others like them, don’t exist in a vacuum. They have been supported and developed by quite a lot of schools and schoolkids across the country, all of whom deserve a pat on the back. Which is what Musgrave and its partners, through sponsorship, awards, and indeed this blog, are very happy to offer them all.

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