Londiwe Ndlovu (18), from Athlone town, is the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) local champion for the Longford Westmeath constituency. She was pictured at a special event in Dublin to launch the NYCI's pre-budget submission, 2024. Photo: Jason Clarke.

Athlone teen becomes 'local champion' for Youth Council of Ireland

Londiwe Ndlovu, an 18-year-old from Athlone, has been announced by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) as its local champion for the Longford-Westmeath constituency.

The local champions initiative was put in place by NYCI to lobby politicians for increased investment in young people and youth work.

Londiwe was in the spotlight in recent years due to her success as an Our Lady's Bower student in the Junk Kouture fashion competition. Last year, she was one of the Junk Kouture contestants chosen to fly to Cannes to model her design.

Speaking about becoming a local champion for the youth council, Londiwe said she wanted to help ensure that "youth work in Athlone and beyond gets its fair share come budget time".

Paul Gordon, NYCI Director of Policy and Advocacy explained: "As part of the local champions initiative, a group of passionate young individuals has been selected as representatives from their communities to engage with their local politicians and champion the cause of youth work.

"The local champions received training and support from NYCI to effectively convey the positive impact youth work has on their lives and the lives of young people in the local area, as well as the importance of investing in youth work.

"NYCI is calling for an increased investment of €9.4 million in youth work in Budget 2024, to support the rising costs associated with delivering quality services locally, and ensure equal access to youth work for all young people nationwide."

In her role, Londiwe is hoping to engage with local Oireachtas representatives including Minister of State Peter Burke and his fellow Longford-Westmeath TDs, Sorca Clarke, Joe Flaherty and Robert Troy, among others.

Londiwe Ndlovu from Athlone, being awarded a certificate, to confirm her role as NYCI local champion for the Longford Westmeath constituency, by Shreya Chaturvedi (Community Foundation Ireland). Photo: Jason Clarke.

Londiwe said: "Being a local champion for my area has been a fantastic opportunity as I've had the chance to learn about advocacy but most importantly ensure that young people receive as much support as possible, while working with like-minded individuals.

"At the end of the day our young people are the leaders of tomorrow therefore it is vital we work collectively with our local representatives to support young people.

"There's so much important work happening in our local area to support young people and I want to make sure that our local representatives carry that message to the national level, so that youth work in Athlone and beyond gets its fair share come budget time."

More details about the local champions initiative, and NYCI's efforts to advocate for increased investment in youth work, can be found online at: youth.ie