Our Youth Matters Seminar IN Templeglantine

Organisers Elizabeth Cullinane of the Abbeyfeale and District Initiative and Mary Danaher of Limerick Social Service Council wish to thank the nearly 250 people who attended the seminar.

The evening began at 7pm when the exhibitors spoke in relation to their organisation to those whovisited their stand: Abbeyfeale Bereavement Support Group, Abbeyfeale and District Initiative, Abbeyfeale Youth Clubs, Barnardos, Body Wellness, Bodywhys, Colaiste Ide agus Iosef Community College, Console, Counselling Services – Rapha Cottage, Mid West Regional Drugs Task Force, and the South West Counselling Centre, County Limerick Local Sports Partnership, CURA, Eileen Lane Nutritionist, Foroige, GROW, HSE Health Promotion Dept, Irish Bishops Drug Initiative, I.F.A, JIGSAW Kerry, Kerry Life Skills, Limerick Community and Voluntary Forum, Limerick Social Service Council, Limerick Youth Service, Mental Health Ireland, Pieta House, Samaritans, The Men’s Shed, Toastmasters, Tralee IT, Vitality Chiropractor and West Limerick Resources. At 7:30pm the chairman, Michael O’Mahony Dip Psych., M.I.A.H.I.P., I.C.P., E.A.P., who is based in UL as Student Support Counsellor, addressed the audience with an outline of the evening starting with Melissa Holland, a Transition Year student, lighting a candle signifying hope and support, Transition Year students from Colaiste Ide agus Iosef performed a mime to the song of ‘Let it be’ by the Beatles. The wonderful speakers spoke extremely passionately about Youth Mental Health: Speaker 1, Dr. Jennifer McMahon BA PhD, Lecturer from UL in Special Education Needs (SEN) in the Dept of Education and Professional Studies, spoke on Understanding Youth Mental – What youth mental health is and how we can support it. Speaker 2, Dr. Amanda Fitzgerald BA PhD, Lecturer from UCD School of Psychology, spoke on Youth Mental Health – What helps and what hurts? Speaker 3, Aidan Murphy, Project Manager and Clinical Coordinator of JIGSAW Kerry, a former psychiatric nurse, along with his colleague Ciara Moriarty, a clinical support worker and qualified social worker who had previously worked with the Kerry Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, addressed the topic of the importance of reaching out. The messages and information relayed on the night were very real and in layman’s terms they noted they were talking to the converted as they showed their young people that they cared by just turning up and that as parents we were good enough. The research compiled from the pilot of JIGSAW Limerick City and County highlighted some similarities in what troubles young people however, those that mediated their troubles did so very differently depending on where they lived. We were informed from research compiled by Headstrong that our young people needed boundaries as it makes them feel protected and secure, as a consequence they can use us parents as an excuse if they don’t feel safe in certain situations instead of succumbing to peer pressure. Last but not least we were told by JIGSAW Kerry about really listening to our youngsters by remaining silent, sometimes they don’t need us to come up with solutions, they just need us to offload to, and then we should only offer advice if it’s asked for. However, the main message from all the speakers to each person was that there are people and organisations out there, so do not suffer in silence, reach out and get help and be of assistance to others by volunteering in our community as a result, we receive by giving.

At 9:15pm the Transition Year students closed the event by playing musical instruments and singing the song ‘You Raise Me Up’ by Westlife. Michael O’Mahony ended the evening by thanking everyone who helped make the whole night a success. The floor was opened up for a question and answers session, Linda Power from Mental Health Ireland went around with the roaming microphone and we had some useful input from the floor and some excellent feedback. The exhibits reopened and tea and coffee were on offer, and it was great to see so many people stay on to mingle and chat with the speakers, exhibitors and friends. The event ended at 10.30pm.

County Limerick Local Sports Partnership ran a competition, and coordinator Phelim Macken announced the eight winners who answered correctly four questions, two on nutrition and the other two on physical fitness; their prize was a pedometer. Congratulations to them all, well done and we hope to see you out and about. Pedometers let you measure how far you ran, walked, or biked, and store a record of your workouts in a fitness log.

We wish to express thanks to all our brilliant speakers on the night; their knowledge and wisdom was outstanding. We’d like to thank Mr. Jim Tierney, Principal of Colaiste Ide agus Iosef, Community College, for allowing us into his school, and for sending text messages out to all parents advising them of this event. Special thanks to Mr. Con Healy Transition Year Coordinator for working with us on this project from the start, permitting last year’s group to help compile our ‘Times Gone By’ booklet, which went on sale in May; all the proceeds were used for this seminar so a big thank you to St. Mary’s Boys National School and Scoil Mháthair De National School for providing last year’s 5th class pupils to interview residents and visitors of St. Ita’s Daycare Centre and again this year’s Transition Year students for being so hands on in the seminar with their art piece, musical input and manning of their exhibit. We thank the following teachers for their assistance: Mr. Jim Vaughan (Art), Mrs. Kara Moloney (Mime), Mrs. Nan Howard (Music), Mr. Con Healy, Mrs. Karen Meade, Ms. Nora Reidy and Mr. Jim Vaughan (supervising on the night)

We wish to convey our sincere gratitude to William Sheehan, proprietor of the Devon Inn, Templeglantine, for sponsoring the hire of the ballroom and very kindly offering to cover the cost of the tea and coffee on the night, community support at its best; thank you.

We are very grateful to the Community Foundation of Ireland for funding our booklet project at the start which enabled the community to integrate young and old; additionally, Anne Lyons for selling our ‘Times Gone By’ booklets along with St. Itas Day-care Centre, nand thank you to the people who bought the book. Thanks to Eileen Healy of Feale Print for producing the booklets and posters, Paul Ward for taking such wonderful photos of our event, Fr. John O’Shea for the use of this premises which enabled us to meet, brainstorm and thrash out our ideas and make contact with the various agencies and organisations as well as store our ever growing literature, and not least Anne O’Meara for putting our notices into the church newsletters. Donations have been given to Headstrong and JIGSAW Kerry. We have eight booklets left; if anyone is interested in buying them, they are €5 each please, contact Mary Danaher, Parent Support Worker, LSSC, Parish Office, Abbeyfeale, Tel: 068-31019.

The Abbeyfeale and District Initiative was formed in 2008 through the Irish Bishops Drugs Initiative. We have gone from strength to strength and diversify each year to meet the needs of our community in West Limerick. If you have any ideas for future seminars or local talks please contact us on the above number or email: abbeyfealedistricit initiative@gmail.com.