Donal Walsh #LiveLife Foundation
November 1, 2018
Outline the vision and mission of the Organisation
The Donal Walsh #LiveLife Foundation was established in 2013 after Donal Walsh, the Kerry teenager who touched so many lives when he came to prominence through his writings and subsequent appearance on Brendan O’Connor’s ‘The Saturday Night Show’ and by being honoured by his native county with the “Local Hero Award”. The family of Donal who fund raised tirelessly while battling Cancer has had the Donal Walsh #Livelife Foundation set up in his memory.
The Mission of The Donal Walsh #LiveLife Foundation is to continue the conversation he started, before his untimely death, by promoting his anti-suicide #Livelife message particularly among his peer age group, the teenage population.
The Charity’s vision is to reduce the suicide rate in teenagers and to continue promoting Donal’s message to Live Life.
How has the Organisation developed and tackled issues?
Initially the foundation was set up as a result of requests by many to fundraise in his memory and from requests to promote Donals’ anti suicide #LiveLife message and distribute the funds raised in his memory to teenage facilities. The Foundation speaks to schools across Ireland and now has a reach of approximately 50,000 students per annum.
By relating Donal’s journey and writings we appeal to this peer audience, and many others, to seek help from their existing community leaders, teachers, counsellors, parents, coaches or chaplains. They should not end up in the dark room of depression without seeking help. Terence Casey, the retired south Kerry Coroner noted that he had dealt with no teen suicides for three years after Donal spoke out and while he could not attribute this directly to Donal, he was the major catalyst in the reduction of youth suicides across Ireland. Through his direct language Donal was able to initiate, a previously taboo subject, into an open conversation about minding mental health, with teenagers in particular, and not consider suicide as an option.
As a result of fundraising the Donal Walsh #Livelife Foundation has had over €500,000 raised in his memory. To date they have given out nearly €500,000 to teenage related projects, which they hope will benefit the teenagers not just of today but into the future.
What has the overall impact of the work been?
The Foundation has donated to Pieta House to include a teenage counselling room in all their properties nationally and internationally, teenage hospice rooms in Tralee & Milford Hospice, Crumlin St. Johns Ward, sponsored State of Mind Ireland in developing a programme for the awareness of mental health in Sports clubs and Kare 4 Kids for children in Hospitals who need support. The Foundation has also given support to Make A Wish, Console, Cliona Ring Foundation, Kerry Rape Crisis Centre, Ronald McDonald House in Crumlin, Mid West Cancer, Laois Hospice, the Teenage Hub at Knock Shrine, West Cork Hospice & Bons Secures Tralee Hospital relief aid in Africa.
Over fifteen GAA and Rugby clubs carry the Logo on one of their team squad shirts. From Elma and Fionnbars’ visits to schools and other parish/club projects there has been a noticeable reduction in suicides from 2010 to 2016 in particular with younger male adults:
49% drop from 2010 to 2016 in those aged between 0 & 19
31% drop from 2010 to 2016 in those aged between 20 & 39
23% drop from 2010 to 2016 in those aged between 40 & 59
And while we see a 43% increase from 2010 to 2016 in those aged 60+ this is now a reduction of 25% from a peak in 2011 and 2012.
What makes this Organisation unique?
Through his intervention, and by being captured on media through his interviews, Donal and his story will remain that of a sixteen year old. By being included in the SPHE, as a young person of influence, and Religion programmes, as a young person of faith, in schools he is introduced to a new audience each year. By representing the Donal Walsh #Livelife Foundation his parents are unique ambassadors who can continue the conversation by recounting his life to the target audience of his peers.
How can the public support this work?
The public can support The Donal Walsh #LiveLife Foundation firstly by continuing the conversation that Donal started about seeking help when in distress then through third party fundraising efforts, and raising awareness of the work the Donal Walsh #Livelife Foundation does. The public can connect with the charity through social media on Facebook at Donal Walsh #Livelife, on Twitter @DonalLiveLife and the website donalwalshlivelife.org
How is the Organisation transparent and accountable?
The Donal Walsh #LiveLife Foundation is a registered charity (CHY21124) and a company limited by guarantee (531123). The charity is fully compliant with The Charity Regulatory Authority and all other relevant legislation and recommended best practice. The Foundation submits its audited accounts annually. The Foundation has only one part time, non family member in its employ to co-ordinate the operation. Neither Elma or Fionnbar receive remuneration for their time given to continuing the conversation. The Foundation only covers their expenses costs of travel and accommodation.