ULSTER GAA is working with a number of clubs across Ulster’s nine counties delivering the Joint Award Initiative which is jointly run by the Duke of Edinburgh Award and Gaisce – The President’s Award.
The comprehensive programme requires young Gaels to play sport, volunteer in their club/community, develop a skill and complete an expedition.
There are three levels of award: Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Bronze award takes six months to complete, while it’s an additional six months for silver and an additional six months for Gold, meaning young people could achieve all three awards within a year and half.
GAA clubs can get involved in this programme by registering as a ‘Joint Award Initiative club’, where they will receive advice and support on how to roll the programme out within their club setting, benefiting the club and the individual young person.
The four areas covered through this programme are:
Physical Activity – any team or individual activity is eligible to be used for this section including playing or training in any Gaelic sport, injury recovery programmes, personal fitness, walking/running programmes.
GAA clubs are an ideal fit for the young people to achieve this section as they already have young people enjoying physical activities at their facilities.
Volunteering – all volunteering is eligible and in particular we encourage clubs to offer volunteering opportunities to their young members to achieve this award – this can be any volunteering effort in the club from fundraising to lining out a pitch to helping with catering or stewarding etc.
A lot of young Gaels are already working towards Sports Inspire Awards Programme within their club to achieve 50, 100 and 200 hours volunteering – these young people could count the same volunteering towards this award.
Skills – any development of a skill is eligible so young people may do this within the club setting or outside; for example taking driving lessons can be counted towards this session.
Within the club setting, a club could offer lessons to learn a musical instrument, Irish dancing, Irish language classes etc. Some clubs also offer programmes to develop coaching skills among their young members.
Expedition – this element can be organised by the club if they have a number of young people signed up for the programme or alternatively, Ulster GAA offers places for expeditions throughout the year. Expeditions may include canoeing, hiking, walking – it must include a journeying aspect and there are strict guidelines in place for each expedition for bronze, silver and gold.
The joint award initiative allows young people from the six counties to choose which award they would prefer: The Duke of Edinburgh Award, The Duke of Edinburgh International Award or Gaisce – the President’s Award. This ensures the programme is inclusive to all.
Those from the three counties of Monaghan, Cavan and Donegal register with Ulster GAA through the Gaisce – the President’s Award and undertake the same programme.
In December last, 31 young people were awarded with their final Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award or Gaisce – The President’s Award Bronze after completing the programme with Ulster GAA and their club.
We congratulate all of them and we hope many of these young people will go on now to complete their silver award. A number of clubs have already signed up for this programme with young people working towards the award.
Anyone interested in find out more about this programme or registering their club should email firstname.lastname@example.org.