Gaelic Games

Innovative GAA event features as the Abbey School in Tipperary hosts the inaugural "Wellbeing Week"

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Innovative GAA event features as the Abbey School in Tipperary hosts the inaugural "Wellbeing Week"

The Abbey School, as part of their “Wellbeing Week”, recently hosted an event entitled “Managing my wellbeing in the GAA” - see below for full caption.

The inaugural wellbeing week at the Abbey School took place during the first week of April - wellbeing is now an integral component of the school curriculum with everyone now aware that the mental health and wellbeing of students is critical to success in school and life. Schools play a vital role in the promotion of positive mental health in students and on Monday, April 1 the Abbey School hosted a unique event entitled “Managing my wellbeing in the GAA” in the new PE hall.

A panel which featured Conor Sweeney (captain of the Tipperary senior football team and geography teacher at the school), John Kiely (Abbey School principal and Limerick senior hurling manager), Johnny Ryan (current Abbey School leaving certificate student and underage dual star who has represented Tipperary in both football and hurling while also captaining the Tipperary minor hurlers to a Munster title in 2018), Aislinn Connolly (former Galway camogie player and current analyst with the Sunday Game), Jamie Wall (former Cork dual star and current manager of Mary Immaculate College senior hurling team) and Seán Finn (Limerick senior hurler) were interviewed by Mr Seán Mullins who acted as an inspirational MC for the event.

A panel discussion took place for over an hour and the audience, which included students, teachers, parents and members of the wider community, were given the opportunity to ask questions of the panel.

This event gave students a great insight into how to look after the physical, mental and emotional aspects of being a top-level athlete.

Meanwhile as part of “Wellbeing Week” Tuesday, April 2 saw sixty students along with Mr Riall, Mr. Hayes, Mr Quirke and Ms Quinn take on the challenge of cycling the full 47km Waterford Greenway (commencing in Dungarvan and ending in Waterford city).

Despite some changeable weather in Tipperary that morning the sunny south-east did not disappoint and the group were blessed with plenty of sunshine along with some scattered showers.

Over the week a number of guest speakers presented to students. Senior students engaged in “Beat the Blues” workshops with James Moroney from Aware and Mindfulness and RSE workshops with the Tipperary Youth Service.

Third year, transition year and sixth year students were privileged to be part of a moving and powerful session with Peter Ryan of Upperchurch. Peter was a teenager with a bright future ahead of him both professionally and on the field of play (Peter Ryan played with the Tipperary minor hurlers in 2008). However, less than eighteen months later he has diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder which resulted in the loss of his sight over a very short space of time.

Overtime he adapted to his life-limiting condition and he has become a full-time athlete and cyclist representing Ireland in two Paralympic competitions. Despite his affliction, he has a very positive outlook and the take home message for the students, especially those in exam classes, was to put things in perspective, take every day as it comes and try to keep stress relating to the upcoming exams to a minimum.

Third year students heard from local lady and sailor Mary Frawley who is recently home after spending almost a year at sea participating in the Clipper Race. The “Clipper Race” is unique in that it trains non-professionals to become ocean faring sailors. The idea of a circumnavigation had always been a dream for Mary and the nurse from Emly described the Clipper Race as the adventure of a lifetime. The team battled hurricane force winds, waves of up to fourteen metres high, crossed five oceans and visited twelve host ports on six different continents before completing a 40,000 nautical mile circumnavigation.

First and second year students participated in the “Online Safety” workshops which was very apt given the level of danger they are exposed to on social media. These workshops were carried out by John Lillis (student advisor with Bank of Ireland). Some junior groups were also involved with “Drop Everything and Move” initiatives throughout the week.

Special thanks go to Niamh McCarthy, Conor Hayes, Anne Marie Ruby and all members of the school wellbeing committee for organising the events, all of the teachers who participated in the activities and most importantly the guest speakers and visitors for making the “Wellbeing Week” the success that it was.

Monies raised through entry to the panel discussion and a non-uniform day were donated to three worthy charities: Cystic Fibrosis Ireland, Aware and Pieta House.

Wellbeing matters in the here and now. It is important because all students have a right to feel cared for in the Abbey School and we also know that students who have higher levels of wellbeing tend to have better cognitive outcomes in school.

ESRI research has found that “children with higher levels of emotional, behavioural, social and school wellbeing had higher levels of academic achievement subsequently (at ages 11, 14, and 16)”.

Therefore, wellbeing and learning are inextricably connected. Wellbeing is an on-going initiative and process and the “Wellbeing Week” at the Abbey School highlighted the importance of it and the involvement of all school stakeholders.

The Abbey School hopes to build on this event for the next school year.

Pictured above from left are: event organisers Anne Marie Ruby and Niamh McCarthy, Tipperary senior football captain Conor Sweeney, Limerick senior hurler Sean Finn, (in front) Jamie Wall (Mary Immaculate College, Limerick manager and former Cork underage dual star), Aislinn Connolly (former Galway camogie player and Sunday Game analyst), Jonathan Ryan (leaving certificate student and dual minor star for Tipperary in 2018), Sean Mullins (MC for the event) and John Kiely (Limerick senior hurling manager and Abbey School principal)