Cork groups are up for national adult learning awards

Seven Adult Learning initiatives from Cork have been shortlisted for the prestigious AONTAS Star Award. Here we find out more
Cork groups are up for national adult learning awards

Colm O'Regan MC of the STAR AWARDS run by AONTAS.

THE STAR Awards (Showcasing Teamwork, Awarding Recognition) is an awards initiative organised by AONTAS, the national adult learning organisation, to recognise and celebrate the work undertaken by adult learning initiatives throughout the island of Ireland.

The seven groups short-listed from Cork include:


The Ability Board-Your Voice:

The Ability Board is an advocacy group from Ability@Work by Cope Foundation, which is a service that brings young people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism closer to the labour market.

The Ability Board collaborated with Inclusion Ireland and with the HSE. They are working to establish the new ‘Decision Support Service’, which will promote the rights and interests of people who may need support with decision-making.


The Ability Programme:

This programme helps young adults with disabilities to engage in the community and to find employment. It supports them through training, workshops and employer engagement, with 31 people supported over a three-year period. Ability is an initiative organised in partnership with SECAD, Ballyhoura, and IRD Duhallow to help young adults to develop the confidence and independence required to participate in education, training and employment. It also supports employers to have the capacity to take on young people with disabilities.



Sustainable Climate Action and Local Advocacy Youth Village:

This project, also referred to as the ‘Global Goals Trail’ began in January 2021 and was carried out by a group of volunteers (aged 20-26) and includes important information about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and what can be done to achieve them.

A group of young people from the Cork Life Centre worked on this trail in Cork, making birdhouses from repurposed materials and gathering information for seventeen SDG stations on the trail.

EIL Explore Global Awareness Programme (GAP) Award:

This an initiative offers four part-funded 2-month volunteering scholarships abroad, which are linked with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The award fosters lifelong learning, diversity and nonformal educational opportunities, and is dedicated to adults who are passionate about sustainable development and are active volunteers in their communities.



Amplifying Voices Scholarship Scheme:

This scheme is part of the Level 9 postgraduate course in Creativity and Change at Munster Technology University. It aims to facilitate greater access to the course for people from minority backgrounds, to reflect the diversity of Irish society and ensure that all voices are heard. The accredited course is funded by Irish Aid and hosted by the Department of Arts in Health and Education at Crawford College of Art and Design.

Healthcare Level 5:

This programme developed by SECAD Partnership, with Ballyhoura Local Development, Limerick Education and Training Board, and University College Cork, offers training to women wishing to upskill, return to education and to the employment. The programme, now running for four years, is targeted at women who were at home for a number of years caring for their children or parents, with 164 women registered in the second programme.

Cultural & Heritage Studies, CSN, College of Further Education:

This one-year full-time programme focuses on Archaeology, History, Folklore and the Arts and has been running for over 30 years with over 1,000 graduates. Run in the CSN College of Further Education under the guidance and support of the Cork Education and Training Board, this ground-breaking course was the first of its kind in Cultural and Heritage Studies in Ireland, and facilitated the establishment of National Council for Vocational Awards (NCVA) and FETAC certification in the field.

Dr Niamh O’Reilly, CEO of AONTAS, said: “The STAR Awards are an excellent opportunity to celebrate the positive contribution that adult learning initiatives make to individual adult learners, local communities, and the Irish public. The focus this year is on the wider benefits of learning for development of a collective sense of belonging, equality, wellbeing, and growth. This is really reflected across the shortlist this year, and AONTAS is delighted to have such wonderful initiatives shortlisted for the STAR Awards.”

STAR Award winners will be announced during the week of the AONTAS Adult Learners’ Festival (7th-11th March 2022).

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