THE achievements of 12 young students were celebrated at their graduation at the Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre (OEC).
Their graduation followed their completion of the young mariner programme – a nine-month outdoor education course which put the students through their paces as they took part in challenges such as sailing, sea and river kayaking, open canoeing, power boat driving, wilderness first aid, campcraft and ancillary skills, such as navigation, sea safety and more.
They also undertook the Gaisce Bronze Award, which focussed primarily on their skills training and coastal clean-up and environmental awareness; a topic that is currently very much to the forefront of the social conscience.
This year’s students were a part of the very first instalment of the programme and experienced a wide variety of marine-related skills training and certification, along with a vast array of opportunities to strengthen their personal development as teenagers.
The programme was conceived by Jon Hynes, acting director of Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre, in a bid to provide an opportunity to local youth to gain the very best in training.
He said: ‘While the priority of the course is to teach young people the importance of water safety, how to operate water-based transport and how to respect the sea in all senses of the word, I think I speak for teachers and students alike when I say we have enjoyed each and every step of the journey.
‘I hope that our young graduates can hold their heads high in the knowledge that they have gained some incredibly important skills that will stand to them in endless ways in their future endeavours.’
John Fitzgibbons, director of further education and training at the Cork Education and Training Board (CETB), added: ‘We are always conscious of meeting the demand for both desirable fields of study and sector-specific skills and this programme undoubtedly falls under both of these categories.
‘While it offers its students the opportunity to learn practical, life-long skills, it also provides expert training that is very appealing to employers in relevant industries, giving its graduates a fighting chance of getting their foot on the career ladder when the time comes. During the course, the students visited the National Maritime College in Ringaskiddy to explore future opportunities in the marine sector, so we hope they will carry this inspiration with them as they continue their educational journey.’