THE launch of the Laois Offaly Garda Division Youth Awards took place last Friday in the Killeshin Hotel, Portlaoise.
The awards are to celebrate outstanding young people between the ages of 13 and 21 years of age, who by their presence make their communities a better place to live.
Speaking at the launch, Chief Superintendent John Scanlan said the scheme has been very successful in other parts of the country. ''We often underestimate the worth of our youth who are both innovative and important to our future. It is important to recognise their excellence in the area of sports, arts, culture, charities or caring for a relative or friend,'' he said.
He went on to say that some young people have made enormous contributions to their local communities, and might feel embarrassed to be nominated and feel they were just doing the right thing but none the less they should be recognised.
He thanked Pat McDonagh of Supermac's for his sponsorship and described it as a ''good fit'' as Supermac's is where young people often meet up.
Pat McDonagh said he was delighted to be involved. He spoke about the young people he employs and their new ways to communicate.'' It's different and unique and we have to change as employees,'' he added.
''We come into contact with thousands of young people on a daily basis in Supermac's outlets and see many examples of social awareness and considerate behaviour among them,'' he outlined.
Mr McDonagh said to win a Garda Youth Award is a good thing to have on your CV, it sets the young person apart and can give someone a tremendous advantage when looking for a job.
The awards will be presented under a number of categories. There will be one overall winner of the Laois Offaly Garda Youth Awards for 2019.
A Voluntary Group Achievement Award which is open to nominations of two or more young people whose combined efforts have contributed positively to their communities.
A Community Safety Award, which recognises an individual or group who make their community a safety place to live.
In addition there will be a Special Achievement Award, which is open to any young person who has defied the odds, or overcome difficult circumstances and whose commitment deserves recognition.
Furthermore there will be District Awards given to young people for their positive contribution to the districts of Tullamore, Birr and Portlaoise.
Nominations are now open and entry forms can be collected from Tullamore and Birr Garda Stations or downloaded from the Laois Offaly garda Division Facebook Page or on the Garda website at: https://www.garda.ie
When the forms are complete they should be handed in to Tullamore Garda Station to Garda Robert Fahy, Offaly Juvenile Liaison Officer or Garda Grace Heffernan, Community Policing Birr Garda Station.