‘Guiding has given me the confidence not only to dream but to do’

UN Youth Delegate and Centenary Guide Leader Aisling O’Boyle, who joined IGG as a six-year-old Brownie, delivered the following inspiring speech at the National Guide Awards:

First of all, congratulations! Completing the National Guide Award is a huge achievement and each of you should be very proud of yourselves.

Achieving the National Guide Award is hard work: it requires dedication, commitment and enthusiasm and you all clearly have those attributes in bucket loads. Whatever the hardest part of the Award was for you – whether that was running an activity for your unit, researching projects on your own or going camping for the very first time – the courage you showed by standing up and completing those challenges is exactly what Guiding is all about.

I’m just back from spending three weeks at the United Nations in New York where I spoke on behalf of young people in Ireland and advocated for the issues young people across the country told us they cared about. Issues such as climate change, gender equality, poverty and homelessness – as well as getting more young people involved in decision making.

You may be asking how I ended up there? Well, if I had to chalk it down to one moment it would be walking into the Dundrum church hall, as a nervous, quiet six-year old and falling in love with Brownies. Thanks to wonderful Leaders and mentors, many of whom are in this room today, and 14 years of incredible experiences, Guiding has taught me to have the confidence not only to dream but to do.

I recognise a number of faces here from IGGNITE last summer where we learnt about all the things we can ‘be’. To be adventurous, confident, inventive, limitless and brave. As your journey through Irish Girl Guides continues as you move from Guides into Senior Branch I’d encourage you to take every opportunity Guiding gives you to ‘be’ all of these things.

Be adventurous by taking up a challenge you never before dreamed you’d do – whether that be hiking for four days with some of your best friends when doing the Chief Commissioners’ Award, or going on your first international trip.

Be unique by designing your own journey through Senior Branch. Go after the things you want to do in Guiding and don’t be afraid to keep trying, even if you don’t get the answer you want the first time around.

Be confident. Go to regional and national Senior Branch events, even if your Unit isn’t going. You will be amazed by how much you have in common with Guides from all over the country, and indeed from every corner of the world. The Guiding bond is strong and means you’ll never be alone no matter where you go.

Be limitless. Guiding will give you the opportunity to travel the world, make friends from every continent and experience new cultures. But the experiences you have at home are just as incredible. One of my favourite memories of Guides is washing up after dinner on my first trip to Enniskerry Cottage and dancing around the kitchen to the Hairspray musical soundtrack.

Be amazing by volunteering with a Ladybird, Brownie or Guide Unit. You will help them learn, grow, discover and fly; and the skills you learn and the experiences you have will be invaluable and unforgettable.

Be an advocate because, when we bring it back to basics, this is what Guiding is all about: making the world a better place – whether that’s in our country, our county, our community, or our school. We can all make a difference and you’re never too young to start.

And finally, be you! You are unique, powerful, valuable, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world, and I hope that as you continue on your Guiding journey you will be constantly reminded of that.

Congratulations again! Every Leader in this room is so proud of each one of you!