Lillian Ashe (Youth Justice Worker) with Chloe Kerry from Portlaoise.
A Laois teenager joined 250 other young people from India, the USA and Ireland in Kildare this week for Foróige’s Leadership for Life Youth Conference.
Chloe Kerry from Portlaoise attended the conference in Maynooth which brought together teenagers to empower them to become leaders in their own lives.
Former professional Irish rugby star Paul O'Connell gave a talk to the young people on Wednesday, as part of the Aldi guest lecture series, where he highlighted the importance of staying positive.
Speaking at the conference, O'Connell inspired young people to work hard.
“God given talent is a myth, successful people work harder and smarter and that’s how they achieve their goals. It’s really important to keep positive. Don’t let anyone say you can’t do something. You have the capacity to work, train and do anything you put your mind to. It doesn’t matter what it is, stay the course and be the person you want to be," he said.
Seán Campbell is the CEO of Foróige.
“These young people have come to this conference because someone in their lives saw their potential to lead, grow, develop and influence, whether that was a parent, Foróige youth worker, or teacher.
“Amongst other things, these teens will learn about resilience and perseverance this week, and further develop their ability to believe in themselves. It’s more important than ever for these young people to realise that leadership is not about ego or personal advancement, it’s about showing the way and inspiring those around you to be the best that they can be.
“The conference offers these young people the fantastic opportunity of exploring their own unique set of leadership skills, whilst encouraging them to believe in their own ability to make real and powerful positive change in the world.”
The 250 delegates, aged 15 to 18, will graduated on Friday morning, August 3, having completed various stages of the leadership programme.
As part of the week-long conference, the delegates also met inspirational guest speakers Louise Foody, Director of Digital & Brand at Kingspan Group and Maria Walsh, former Rose of Tralee, entrepreneur, and broadcaster
The Foróige Leadership for Life Programme was developed in Ireland in 2009 and is open to young adults aged 15-18.
Delegates attending have been nominated by youth workers and volunteer leaders from their own countries because they have demonstrated an innate sense of justice, determination, passion and ability to lead and make positive changes in their own communities.
The programme includes lectures by a host of inspirational speakers, workshops on team building, critical thinking and communication skills and peer discussions on matters of global importance.
Young people were also be challenged to understand their own values and prejudices. Participants are encouraged to go beyond their own personal comfort zones and perceived capabilities to be better than they thought they could be.