Young People's Awards: The inspiring leadership qualities of our teenagers

Special celebration of Derry's youth by local credit union

Young People's Awards: The inspiring leadership qualities of our teenagers

Members of the Well Connected group with their award.

Young people in Derry are natural born leaders.

Every year the Leadership Category is one of the largest in terms of nominations.

The Leadership Award recognises the qualities that make a good leader: Integrity, compassion, motivation and energy.

The runners-up in the Leadership Category were Matthew Doherty and the St Cecilia’s College Environmental Group.

The individual 2020 Leadership Award goes to St Mary’s College Year 12 pupil Ava Canney.

The group winner goes to Well Connected.

Teacher Katrina Kealey writes that Ava Canney (pictured below) ‘is a true inspiration to her peers and a role model proving that hard work, commitment and dedication pay off'.

In her year 11 GCSE modules, Ava achieved ten grade A’s. She is an active member of the school choir and orchestra and has achieved Grade 6 in singing. She is now a mentor for both orchestra and choir, assisting younger pupils.

She especially shines in the field of science and has won numerous awards and titles, such as:

- highly commended at the BT N Ireland Young Scientist of the Year competition 2016,

- Broadcom Masters Award at the 2017 Big Bang Competition and Boston Scientific Medical Devices Award at the 2019 Big Bang Competition

- Scifest Best Communicator Award and Advanced Sensors Award in the Young Innovators competition 2018,

- Derry Journal’s Inspirational Young Talent Award 2018, and

- best overall project in the North West Scifest 2019, achieving the title Northern Ireland Young Scientist 2019.

In June 2019 Ava was interviewed by Hasbro, the US Gaming Company, and creators of ‘Miss Monopoly.’

The interviewers were so impressed with Ava that they invited her to participate in a US documentary about female inventors which featured on US television and You Tube. Hasbro rewarded Ava with more than £20,000 to support her university education and to pursue a career in Pharmaceutical Engineering. Ava aspires to study at Yale University, USA.

Ava is a highly academic and motivated student who has demonstrated high skills in leadership and is committed to showing that women and young girls have a growth mindset.

Miss Kealey said: “As a school community, we are very proud of her achievements.”

The group winner of the Leadership Award is Well Connected, who were nominated by Michaela O’Hagan of the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum.

Consisting of thirty ambassadors from St Cecilia’s College and St Joseph’s Boys School, the group connects young people to their community, allows them the opportunity to make new friends, supports young people in terms of health issues, and empowers young people and gives them a voice.

The ambassadors meet weekly. Some of their accomplishments include:

- creating a plan to deliver positive messages to support other students,

- writing a four-week health and wellbeing programme with the Public Health Agency to be delivered in the secondary level schools to address mental health/managing emotions, bullying, physical health and confidence building,

- developing an internet safety wallet card to help young people stay safe online,

- raising funds for local mental health services, and

- developing a nurture room within school to help support young people who need a space to help themselves feel better.

Michaela said: “Leadership is a quality that these young people hold as individuals and as a group. Giving young people a voice in their school is something that they feel extremely passionate about.”

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