Don O’Leary, director of Cork Life Centre is presented with the 2022 Spirit of Mother Jones award in an emotional ceremony during the Spirit of Mother Jones Festival.
The award was presented by James Nolan and was followed by a sustained standing ovation from the large number of people present.
Don is the first Cork man to receive the award and he commented afterwards that it meant so much to him as Mother Jones was one of his heroes for seeking to prevent the exploitation of children in the mines and mills of America and ensure they received an education and also that he and the Cork Life Centre had been selected by the ordinary people of Cork. This represents the ultimate recognition for his efforts and the wonderful work of the staff and volunteers of the Cork Life Centre.
The Spirit of Mother Jones citation for Don O’Leary and the Cork Life Centre was read.
For his courage and determination to ensure that children and young people are not left behind by the Irish education system.
For his Trojan efforts and that of the volunteers and staff at the Cork Life Centre to create a positive and practical community of learning which is welcoming, supportive and encouraging of young people.
For his advocacy of human rights and social justice especially in relation to children’s rights and their opportunities to progress to the best of their creative abilities and individual talents which contribute so much to a better community and world.
For his refusal to accept that one size fits all in the Irish education system and for his refusal to compromise in relation to this fundamental student centred approach focused on authentic inquiry and experiential learning and measures success in a radically different way to the standard competitive exam system.
For his practical approach to providing a structured base and a supportive network which has established an educational home for the young people to use their talents and visualize opportunities to fulfil their dreams in life and become productive members of society.
For his encouragement of young people to walk the road of life using their own unique abilities, independence of spirit, critical observation and an appreciation of their own self-worth.CORK MOTHER JONES COMMITTEE 2022