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Trip Of A Lifetime!

Camino 2County Mayor, Cllr Darragh Butler is pictured with staff and members of Balbriggan Youth Service, as they undertook a stiff training session at Ardgillan Castle, in preparation for their assault on the Camino in Spain

A group of 11 young people from the Foróige Youth Service in Balbriggan, dubbed Super Heroes, are undertaking the trip of a lifetime, when they will walk the Camino de Santiago in Spain this week. The group is made up of six girls and five boys between the age of 14 and 16 and they will be accompanied on the trip by six adult volunteers.

The Camino super heroes group encapsulates the diversity of young people’s participation in the service representing Balbriggan Youth Service Advisory committee, CUIS -drug and alcohol project, Alternative Learning programme and North Fingal’s Diversionary programme.

The group won a competition after creating a five minute video explaining why they should be chosen to undertake this once in a lifetime trip. One of the stipulations was that the group should be a diversified one, and as the group is made up of people from Foróige clubs, North Fingal Drug and Alcohol Programme and the Alternative Learning Programme (ALP), they were deemed to have fitted the bill to a tee. The group will leave on Tuesday, 11th April, returning a week later on 18th April.

Andy Neary, Manager of Balbriggan Youth Service spoke to the County Leader prior to the group’s departure for Spain. “This is a fantastic opportunity to empower young people from Balbriggan community, to learn about themselves and each other more deeply, be a stronger group through their shared experience and enable young people and adults to work together in their community.” Following all the fundraising, team-building and training days it’s amazing to witness young people’s development. He continued, “Young people have formed friendships that may not have happened if it wasn’t for this once in a lifetime opportunity presented by our private sponsor”. The excitement is palpable and everyone cannot wait to experience walking the camino,” he said.

“The young people took to the task of fundraising for the trip with great gusto and dropped sponsorship letters into local businesses in Balbriggan. The generosity has been terrific and I want to thank those businesses and particularly our main sponsor Progressive Credit Union for their help and support,” he said.

The journey will bring the group to Bilbao and the walking will commence in Pamplona. The destination will be Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Andy had nothing but praise for the tireless volunteers, who will accompany the youngsters and he believes that this trip will have a very positive impact on the development of these young people. The core value of Foróige is based on Friendship and this will go a long way to copper fasten this,” said Andy.

A lot of hard work was put in by all of the youngsters and the County Leader spoke to one of them, who outlined what had to be done to get funding for the trip. Cian Walsh (15) said, “We had to approach businesses in the town and give them sponsorship letters. The response was terrific and I’m very excited about the trip and maybe a little nervous as well. This is my first time to travel by plane and the first time to leave Ireland,” said Cian.

“The whole project has made me want to do more and I’m now looking forward to getting more involved and I hope to go again next year if I can. Getting my passport was a bit of a challenge for me, but I overcame it. Foróige gives me the chance to meet people from other areas of Balbriggan that I would not have met otherwise,” said Cian. His mother, Anita, who was a sterling worker in fundraising for the trip said that she was very proud of Cian and that Foróige is an exceptional organisation for young children in the area, providing fantastic opportunities for youngsters like Cian,” she said.