Some truly remarkable students spoke on mental health at the inaugural Laois Connects Public Speaking competition open to all Laois post - primary schools on the October 11, in the very hospitable Mountmellick Town Library.
The topic for discussion was 'Mental health is everyone's business....including mine'. One would have thought a difficult topic to delve into especially for young people, how wrong an assumption to make.
The young people came at this topic from every angle including case studies, personal experience, the rich and famous and the world around us.
The Scoil Chriost Rí teams were confident, assured and engaged the audience throughout. The Mountmellick Community School (M.C.S.) teams matched them in every aspect and in the end a difficult decision had to be made as to who was the overall winner.
The young men from Mountmellick Community School won out on the day with their very clear and solid delivery. The event was delightfully presided over by Finola Colgan from Mental Health Ireland and the hard working adjudicators on the day were Kate Brickley, Storm Powell and Georgina Ireland.
The teams from Scoil Chríost Rí comprised Aaliyah Onalimi, Ailbhe Dunne, Aoife Hyland Dunne and Seona McKittrick, and were accompanied by a SCR Parents Council member, Ms. Pauline Hyland.
The Mountmellick Community School teams included Aaron Dalton Mitchell, Eric O’ Connor, Sarah Moore and Tiegan Dunne and were accompanied by their Public Speaking Coach, Ms. Joanne Teehan, who is also the Amber Flag Coordinator in the school.
The Amber Flag campaign aims to promote positive mental health within the education system, and in keeping with this promotion, members of the Mountmellick Community School Amber Flag Committee are visiting all post-primary schools in Laois during Laois Connects week to promote this initiative, especially where it has not been established to date and also to create stronger links with the schools that have already engaged, to ensure the good work will continue and perhaps work collaboratively on new ideas from a Laois perspective. Why? Because mental health is everybody's business!
Laois CONNECTS aims to promote positive mental health through connecting with ourselves, our families and friends and with the wider community in many ways.
Georgina Ireland, Community Section, Laois County Council and Co-ordinator for the interagency group which organises the Laois CONNECTS week, congratulated all involved, students and organisers alike, and highlighting the importance of us acknowledging that it’s ok not to be ok, talking to our peers and family/friend support networks or seeking the support services that are available to us.
She stated how proud the Laois CONNECTS organisers were to be involved with Mountmellick Community School and Mental Health Ireland on this public speaking project, adding her hope that this would further develop in the county in years to come.