FORMER directors, staff and volunteers have gathered in Glentworth Street to help the Limerick Youth Service (LYS) kick off its 40 year celebrations.
It was back in May 1973, out of a small office in Patrick Street that the late Sr Joan Bowles opened the Limerick Youth Service.
It moved to Glentworth Street a few years later, and has provided support to generations of youngsters across the city.
The official birthday has been designated as May 24.
A variety of activities are planned through the year, including a Gathering-style event where people who have benefitted from the service return.
Staff and volunteers are working with the communications office to construct Limerick’s answer to the Loch Ness Monster. It is hoped this will be river-bound by the time of the Riverfest celebrations in early May.
A youth conference is to be held, while it is hoped RTE’s Nationwide will also carry a feature on the service.
This year’s Ger McDonnell sponsored cycle will be held in aid of LYS.
Catherine Kelly, director of the youth service, said: “I want this year to be about energy, activity and the fantastic work this service does in a pro-active way to facilitate young people to shape their own futures, and be the active voice around the area.”
Like other services around the country, LYS is facing into tough economic times.
Ms Kelly called on all members to lobby the government to put an end to cutbacks in the youth sector.
“The cutbacks we have had are six times the rate of public expenditure cuts: this is really disproportionate,” she pointed out.
Garryowen man Graeme Rochford, 21, has been with LYS for the last six years.
Working in the Lava Java’s cafe he says, has made him more outgoing.
Stacey Lyons, 23, of Ballynanty, has travelled to events across Europe with LYS.
She said: “The experience I have had, I would not have gotten without the youth service.”