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Matthew Keehan: A Youthreach Success Story

Matthew Keehan beams from ear to ear. He reflects on his life to-date and he just couldn’t be happier right now. The 20-year-old from Limerick’s Southill is now attending third level education despite dropping out of a Secondary School in Limerick at the age of 13.Matthew is one of the many young men and women across the nation who availed of Youthreach, a national programme which offers second-chance education and training in Ireland.
 Matthew felt restricted by the secondary school system and firmly believed, at the age of 13, that school was not for him. That was until three years later he heard about Youthreach and since then he has never looked back. “I went to Youthreach when I was 16. My aunt had told me about it so I decided it would be a perfect opportunity to get my life back on track”. I was there from 1999 to 2002 and did my Junior and Leaving Certificates there. Not only did Youthreach help me get my education back but taught me life skills”.
“My aim was to get my education, to get a foothold and to get back into the world after doing nothing when I left school. It has been the bridge that has got me through to a lot of things that I wanted to achieve,” he reflects. Matthews refers to the traditional school system as regimented and one of the major attributes associated with Youthreach is its informality. “Class atmosphere is informal and you can ask questions. I felt I was listened to and helped. Youthreach is a nurturing environment, you actually care about learning,” he adds.
Having left school disillusioned at such a young age it is difficult to imagine how contented Matthew is with his education. He has gone the full circle and is currently working towards achieving his dream – he is studying Art & Design at Cluain Mhuire, which is part of Galway/Mayo Institute of Technology in Galway.“Without doubt Youthreach has changed my life. Not only has it helped me with my academic achievements but it has also made me more confident and secure in myself.
I have many goals in life and am keeping my options open. I would love to go to school forever. I love learning and hope to continue learning for the rest of my life. Youthreach has nurtured this and given me the confidence and passion to strive to know more. I now feel confident in my abilities, not only academically but socially, by interaction with a wide range of students. I found lifelong friends in Youthreach, not only in the students but in the continued support and valued friendship of the staff,” he enthuses.

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