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Paralympian Catherine Walsh Presents Awards to Swords Students

09 April 2014
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Over 200 students were presented with certificates in the Carnegie Hotel by Paralympic medal winner Catherine Walsh. Minister for Health, James Reilly TD also attended the event to show his support and congratulate all of the students receiving their awards.
Students from Swords were presented with FETAC certificates and awards following the completion of a range of courses designed to support people to enter into or return to employment or progress to further education. The vocational programmes, which are funded by the Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education Training Board (DDLETB) include Fresh Start, IT with Office Skills, Fast Track to Employment, Vocational Skills Foundation.  Rehabilitative training courses funded by the HSE include Choices, Access and Reach. 
Speaking at the certification event, student Martin Boyle acknowledged the support he has received in National Learning Network, firstly through the HSE funded Access programme and then on the DDLETB funded Vocational Skills Foundation programme.  Martin said, “these programmes have given me the support and confidence to be able to plan my future, including completing certification at levels 3 & 4 and an upcoming work placement, which will prepare me to progress to a level 5 course in Nutrition and Dietetics in September and hopefully to employment in that area afterwards.” 
Another student Sharon Byrne said that she was delighted to be staring a Work Placement with Marks & Spencer in the morning.  Sharon spoke about the various ‘ups and downs’ she has had in her life but acknowledged the help she received from the Reach and Sli Bheatha programmes in Balbriggan and the Fresh Start programme in Coolock in building her confidence and helping her get the opportunity she now has.
Hugh Glynn, a student who completed the Fresh Start programme in Coolock, commented on the great support he has received from National Learning Network.  He spoke of the confidence and opportunities that the programme has given him. He alluded to the quality of the course when he joked to Minister Reilly that he need not worry about the value for money the Government was getting for their investment in training with National Learning Network.
John Morris spoke about his experience as a student on the Vocational Skills Foundation and Business and IT programmes and how they gave him a great confidence boost.  “I completed a certified programme at FETAC level 5 and secured a job with SKY after the CV and Interview preparation which I received on the course. The course has given me great hope for the future. I would never have imagined speaking in public before starting the course”. John also joked that anyone looking for good deals in TV packages could speak with him after the presentations. 
The National Learning Network centre in Swords and its two satellite centres in Balbriggan and Coolock offer training opportunities to over 100 people throughout the North Dublin area. The centre in Swords along with its partners has also been involved in the delivery of two innovative Genio funded programmes in the past two years. National Learning Network, in partnership with the HSE and Hail housing delivered a programme called, “Sa Bhaile”, designed to support six people in their move from institutional accommodation to independent living. In addition to this, there is now the “Sli Bheatha” programme, which is run in partnership with Business in the Community Ireland, the network for corporate social responsibility. This programme is designed to assist people to source and maintain work placements in a variety of businesses around Dublin. There is also a community-based service, Delvin, which is run in collaboration with the HSE Dublin North community mental health team. This service supports people in maintaining their mental wellness and their engagement in the local community over the longer term. 
Speaking at the presentation ceremony, Minister Reilly congratulated the students receiving their awards and wished them well in the future. “I am delighted to be here this evening to celebrate the achievements of the students in National Learning Network. I am glad to see so many people speaking about progressing to jobs and the help they have received from National Learning Network to do this. Employment is a key focus of the Government and the daily routine of work is also a huge part of living a person a positive sense of self.”
Catherine Walsh, who won a silver medal at the London 2012 Paralympics, said, “I would like to congratulate each and every one of the students here today on receiving their certificates. I know from my experience competing the effort it takes to win so for those of you who had to overcome various challenges and barriers to get to where you are this evening, it’s a fantastic achievement and I say well done on what you have achieved. I would like to wish each of the students the very best of luck in that next step.”   
John Costello, Area Manager, National Learning Network in Swords, said, “This is a day of great celebration for our students. Each graduate here today is receiving a nationally recognised award, which is a testament to their commitment and hard work. It’s great to see them now reaping the benefits of their learning, either in further education or in local employment. All of the staff here in National Learning Network congratulate them and
wish them every success in the future.”
National Learning Network works on a continuous intake basis. If you are interested in a place on a course or would like further information, please contact the Swords centre directly on 01 8404120.