Carla heading to Washington D.C. for International Awards

All-Ireland Youth Volunteer of the Year Carla McErlean from Kilrea.
All-Ireland Youth Volunteer of the Year Carla McErlean from Kilrea.

All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year Carla McErlean from Kilrea and Cían O’Grady from Herbertstown in Co. Limerick are travelling to Washington D.C. this Friday to join youth volunteers from the United States, Asia and South America to participate in the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremonies.

Both Carla and Cian were selected from hundreds of youth volunteers from across the island of Ireland to receive the title of All-Ireland Youth Volunteers of the Year at the 2016 Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards in March.

They were chosen for their personal sacrifice and outstanding contributions to their local communities. During the four-day event in Washington, Prudential presents awards to more than 100 outstanding youth volunteers from across the U.S. as well as national honourees from around the world.

Looking forward to the trip, Carla McErlean said, “To travel to Washington as a Pramerica youth volunteer is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“I really can’t wait to meet the other volunteers and learn about their journeys and experiences. I would encourage other young people to get involved in volunteering. The feeling you get out of it is surreal and knowing you can help other people is something to be proud of.”

Carla is a sixth form student at Loreto College, Coleraine. Since the loss of her best friend in September 2014 to a brain tumour, Carla was motivated to do something out of the ordinary to make her friend proud raising funds for cancer charities. Carla organised various events with her closest friends in memory of her friend Anna, raising more than £11,000 for Cancer Fund for Children.

She also coordinated ‘The Goosebury Festival,’ a special event held at Anna’s house which raised more than £20,000 for Cancer Fund for Children and the Cancer Unit in Belfast.

The only all-Ireland youth initiative of its kind, the Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards programme recognises young volunteers for their motivation, service and impact on their local community.

The programme is run in partnership with The National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals (NAPD), The General Teaching Council for Northern Ireland (GTCNI), with support from Scouting Ireland and Foróige.