Inspiring the youth of today

By Mary Dennehy

CITYWISE staged a special celebration to acknowledge the tireless work and positive impact of two staff members who are moving on from their current jobs at the Jobstown-based education centre.

John Keogh, who has been Citywise CEO for the past 20 years, is stepping down from his role.

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John Keogh and Christopher Smith

However, John will for the time being stay on at the education centre on a part-time basis to help with finance and fundraising.

Christopher Smith, who has been instrumental in developing Citywise’s STEM education programmes, is, after a decade at the project, moving back to his hometown of Belfast.

Both John and Christopher have over the years become ambassadors for Citywise and the young people of Tallaght, encouraging, inspiring and promoting the abilities, imaginations and goals of our younger generation.

Speaking with The Echo, John said: “I was very happy at Citywise over the years.

“As the saying goes, find a job that you like and you’ll never work a day in your life.

“The staff, parents, grandparents and schools were all fantastic to work with.

“We also worked with the larger community, and all of the young people were very encouraging – they’d give you a lot of hope for the future.

“I really enjoyed my time at Citywise, and I’m not entirely leaving . . .  I’ll still be about a bit.”

John moved out to Jobstown from a city centre project around 25 years ago, when Citywise was starting out as a summer programme in the local community centre and in conjunction with St Thomas’ SNS.

After around five years, Citywise settled into a house provided by South Dublin County Council before eventually embarking on the construction of its purpose-built education centre in Jobstown in 2005.

“Citywise has come on significantly over the years and has made a significant contribution to the area. I am very happy to have been a part of that,” John said.

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John Keogh and Christopher Smith with members of Citywise

Providing after-school and out-of-school support, Citywise is a unique education hub that gives young people an enthusiasm for learning and opens up possibilities for further education.

Citywise encourages young people to see third-level education as a realistic goal, and mixes, for example, traditional subjects with clubs, out-door activities and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).

Christoper Smith has also played an important role in the development of Citywise’s STEM programmes over the past decade, with a new €240,000 STEM facility opened at the Jobstown education centre last year.

The facility boasts a digital classroom, lecture hall and 3D printing and robotic labs, which are equipped with future technologies and instruments for young people to learn how robots and computers work.

Speaking to The Echo at the time, Christopher said: “The future of jobs will involve some form of technology and we want to equip young people with the technical literacy, or technical skill, to give them an edge in the work place.”

Last Thursday, August 15, a special event was staged in Citywise to recognise the impact both John and Christopher have had.

Codie Preston, a Citywise board member, told The Echo: “Both John and Chris have given great service to Citywise and to the young people of Tallaght.

“We’ve very grateful in Citywise for the work they’ve done over the years.”

Codie added: “For local people, John is synonymous with Citywise and is very popular among the staff and with the parents and young people.

“Chris has been very important in our leadership programme, training up the new generation of leaders.

“He has also been very important in pushing the organisation forward and has had great enthusiasm over the years.”

For further information on Citywise, which sees around 500 young people attend regularly every year, visit www.citywise.ie.         

More pictures from the event in The Echo Newspaper, in shops now.    

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