Gillespie Gap Year Award 04

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20604.gif18 year old Steven Crowe is the first person to receive the Gillespie Gap Year Award from the Wallace High School. The Award was funded by Dr Alan Gillespie CBE, Chairman of the Ulster Bank, who was the guest of honour at the school’s annual Prize Day last autumn.The aim of the award was to encourage young people to broaden their horizons and undertake community service before commencing third level education. Steven, from Maghberry, has been accepted on to a Raleigh International scheme, heading off to Costa Rica and Nicaragua in January 2005.

Over 20 000 young people from 75 countries have undertaken schemes with Raleigh International which is a leading Youth Development Charity specialising in providing challenging overseas expeditions for young people of all backgrounds, giving them the opportunity to experience new cultures and environments whilst learning new skills and helping others.

Steven explained, “The three month scheme will consist of three separate projects. Firstly I will be involved with a community project where I’ll be living with local people and creating a sustainable community facility such as a school or medical centre. Secondly, Raleigh has organised an environmental project which will probably involve research of coral reefs. Learning to scuba dive will be quite an adventure. The third part of my time away will be spent on a rainforest trek. My air ticket will be valid for six months so I’m hoping to spend some time backpacking and perhaps become involved in another voluntary project.”

Raleigh International has the support of the United Nations and the European Social Fund and was recently the subject of BBC Northern Ireland’s series, “10 weeks in Costa Rica”.

Steven, who is currently studying for his final A level examinations, is planning a seriesof fundraising events including a three day sponsored walk in the Mournes and several car boot sales.

Steven has been very involved with youth and community work in Lisburn, acting as a volunteer in the YMCA’s “M@7” club for disabled people and training with ASCERT, the community drugs awareness group.
He is also a member of the Young People’s Advisory Forum , working on a strategy for children’s rights in Northern Ireland.

He commented, “Once my exams are over at the end of June I hope to increase the hours of my current part time job to help fund my trip. The very generous Gillespie Gap Year Award is obviously a great start to my fundraising and I’d welcome support from local businesses too. I really think a Gap year will be worthwhile- a break form studying and exams will be excellent and it’ll be a chance to meet others from different backgrounds whilst helping those less fortunate. I’m hoping to study Occupational Therapy at Queen Margaret University College next year and I’ve no doubt my Gap yeart experiences will help with my chosen career.”

Last modified: February 24, 2016