IT was a humbling moment for Blarney and District business owners as Jessica Griffin, a young Cork artist and author with Asperger’s, was announced the winner of the inaugural Blarney & District Ambassador Award organised by Blarney & District Chamber of Commerce at The Oriel House Hotel.
Chairperson John Foley explained that the award goes to a person, group, or business that best represents the spirit of Blarney & District locally, nationally, or internationally.
Councillor Damian Boylan presented her with the award.
While still a secondary student at Cork Life Centre, Jessica, a gifted artist, created a beautifully illustrated comic book called ‘One Piece Missing’ aimed at educating people about what it’s like to live with Asperger’s and making Autism easier to understand — as well as providing knowledge, comfort, and support to people living with autism.
The first in the series of planned books, this edition took us on Jess’s journey from the day her parents first told her they were all flying to America for a holiday and the anxiety, questioning, and preparation that ensued for the next 6 months until Jessica found herself safely landed in New York…and then had to do it all again coming home!
It packs a powerful punch for the reader as it drives home the reality of life with Asperger’s, and saw Jessica crowned the Foróige Innovator of the Year 2020, a programme which involved over 4,000 young people and 120 Schools and Youth Projects right across the country. She then represented Ireland at the European Youth Entrepreneur Awards in Vienna in 2021 and was awarded the Silver Medal in the ‘We Grow Category’.
Jessica’s journey to overcome the daily struggles of life with Asperger’s is now set to become part of the Junior Cert English curriculum.
The six recipients are: Blarney & District Digital Media Award: Elke O’ Mahony of Bia Sásta; Blarney & District Business & Entrepreneurship Award: Sue Pamment, The Website Chef; Blarney & District Best Visual Display Award: Mary Ring Mulcahy for Magical Blarney Christmas grotto at Blarney Woollen Mills; Blarney & District Great Taste Award: Corrinne Austin of Corrinne’s Kitchen; Blarney & District Home Based/ Cottage Industry Award: Fionnuala Collins of Windy Acre Landscaping; Blarney & District Ambassador Award: Jessica Griffin - One Piece Missing.