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DUBLIN, Ireland – Irish credit unions want to promote credit unionism to the younger generation both as a method of wise financial management and as a source of future credit union leadership. The latter is especially important since the movement is aging. The projects are being overseen by the Irish League of Credit Unions (ILCU), which is taking a multi-attack approach combining their past successful programs with new ideas. Credit unions are trying to be part of the Irish school culture with two annual student contests. Over 25,000 school children participate in each contest annually. A knowledge quiz among students has been held for 15 years with the finals being broadcast on RTE, a national Irish television station and hosted by children’s TV star Francis Boylan Junior. Over 300 credit unions run the contest on local levels including running the initial quizzes. Competition A is for children up to 11 years old and Competition B is for children between 11 and 13. Teams apply to their local credit union, which underwrite the project. Local winners go to the regional competitions. The finals will be held in April 2006. “We want to give our children and young people every support in developing their levels of knowledge and their socializing skills through participating in our Schools Quiz,” Anne O’Byrne, President of ILCU said. Credit unions also run a poster competition, with winning selections making up an annual calendar. The competition has been called the biggest art project in Ireland. The theme of this year’s contest, which is the 22nd, is “Credit Unions Can Make it Happen.” There’s no limitation on media except for computer graphics, which are against the rules. As ILCU’s CEO Liam Dwyer said, “This theme and the freedom entrants have to express themselves is a good reflection of what credit unions are all about.” A separate category has been established for special needs children. The entries are divided into three age groups. Like the quiz, the first entries are sent to the local credit union for an initial screening and then sent to the regionals. Television artist Fred Clarke will oversee the final judging ILCU has also developed a National Youth Policy Committee to review the roles and responsibilities of chapter and credit union youth officers. The seven-member committee will be made up of people with a strong interest in developing the youth movement within credit unions. They will represent a geographical spread. ILCU will host the minimum four meetings to be held each year. ILCU developed an interactive educational DVD for young people between the ages of 12 and 18. The main purpose of the DVD is to encourage inquiries for membership as well as to explain the benefits of volunteering. The DVD contains the history of the credit union movement, its philosophy and structure, why a credit union is a good thing to join, mention of the quiz and poster competitions, case studies of young people working in credit unions, and an invitation to contact their local credit union or the ILCU for more information. Release of the DVD will be January 2006. -

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