Two local students have been recognised for being among 20 finalists in the prestigious 2016 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards.
Nathan O’Kane, a Year 14 student at St. Louis Grammar in Ballymena, and Curtis Johnston, a Year 12 at Parkhall Integrated College, Antrim, received certificates to mark the achievement, last Wednesday, from Ivan Arbuthnot, Chairperson of GTCNI (General Teaching Council for NI).
The 2016 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards is the only all-Ireland youth initiative of its kind which rewards post-primary students for outstanding acts of volunteerism.
Nathan has been a member of St John’s Ambulance for seven years and gives up three nights a week to carry out patient transfers.
After suffering a serious injury himself whilst volunteering, he was tended to by St. John Ambulance. Now, on weekends, Nathan provides first aid as part of an ambulance crew at events such as football matches. He also works as part of a crew to provide ambulance response in unison with the NI Ambulance Service.
St Louis principal, Mr Rafferty said: “Nathan is an exemplary student in every respect who is very modest and does not seek any recognition for his work. He is a very genuine and caring student who truly wants to help the community and continues to do so despite his previous injury. He is a shining example to his peers, with great courage and integrity.”
Curtis Johnston volunteers by helping out at Parkhall Youth Club and also with local charity, FOCUS. His role as a volunteer trainee leader at the Youth Club includes helping organise and supervise activities while at FOCUS he works alongside a group of young adults aged 15-25 and is responsible for assisting the charity’s Youth Development Officer.
Curtis completed an OCN Level 1 Youth Development Course in June 2015, aged just 14 and is now aiming to complete level 2.
Youth Tutor Mark Crothers said: “Curtis excelled within the group. His confidence and ability to be an effective volunteer also increased and his desire to help those within his community and his passion to serve was a great asset to the club.”