National Garda Youth Achievement Safety Award Winners

The Castleisland Community College representatives pictured at the award presentation on their great day in Portloaise. Included are from left: Superintendent Flor Murphy, Garda Cathy Murphy, Teresa Walker, Lee Strand; James McDonnell, Anne Cassin, RTÉ; Kevin Lenihan, Cait Mc Ellistrem,Castleisland Community College teacher; Garda Tim O’Connell, Jerry Dwyer, Lee Strand and John O’Sullivan, Lee Strand.
Castleisland Community College teacher, Cáit McEllistrem with her National Garda Youth Achievement Safety Award winning students, from left: Eamon Nolan, Kevin Lenihan and James McDonnell with the spoils of their achievements. ©Photograph: John Reidy

Kevin Lenihan, Eamon Nolan and James McDonnell from Casteisland Community College were proud recipients of a National Garda Youth Achievement Safety Award last week.

The award was presented to them at a ceremony in Portloaise.

As part of their Leaving Cert Agricultural Science Project the three students were conscious of the many dangers present on farms.

Slurry Related Accident

When they heard about the news of Nevan Spence, an Ulster rugby player who tragically died from a slurry related accident, they decided they would get involved to try and help develop an idea around slurry safety.

Castleisland is well known as a farming community and they wanted to get involved to try and make a difference in the area.

Encouraged and Tutored

The students, encouraged and tutored by their teacher, Cáit McEllistrem, entered their idea in the ESB Network National Farm Safety challenge as they wanted to raise awareness and make farms a safer place for all.

They focused their project on the dangers present when working with slurry.

Slurry is extremely dangerous on farms in terms of illnesses or near-death experiences caused from toxic pit gasses.

Students Brainstorming

Their aim was to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities caused by slurry as 10% of all deaths are related to slurry pits.

The three students brainstormed and came up with two safety alarm ideas. Firstly, an alarm containing sensors that identify high levels of methane and hydrogen sulphide gases which would be located roughly one foot above the area in which the agitation occurs.

Levels of Toxic Gases

This will be connected to an alarm which can be put in the farmer’s house. The alarm will ring when high levels of toxic gases are detected outside the slurry pit. This will in turn alert the farmer, letting them know that no adults, children or animals should be near the area in which agitation is occurring.

Secondly, they are promoting the use of a motion sensor alarm at the gate into the slurry pit so if any object or person passes through it, the alarm in the house will sound, letting you know if someone or something has gone into the pit.

Paint it Red

Finally, they also have come up with the idea to paint the area around the slurry pit opening in red, this would act as a visual sign for danger, for younger children especially.

They have presented their project to students in their school, visited farms to discuss their idea with farmers and promoted their project on the school’s Facebook page.

“The farmers they encountered as part of the promotion of their ideas, remarked on the maturity and sense of responsibility shown by the three students,” said Ms. McEllistrem.

Made an Impression

“They made such an impression on the judges of the competition that they were chosen as one of the top four schools in Ireland and made it to the national finals.

“Their determination and commitment in making farms a safer place deems them worthy winners of this National Garda Safety Award.

Two Other National Awards

“In addition, Kevin, Eamon and James have also received two other national awards with Castleisland Community College. They also won the Water Explorer Competition as Transition Year students; the Eco Unesco as fiifth years and, a regional Tidy Town Youth Award.

“These students have shown outstanding qualities under the guidance of their teachers and are role models, inspiring the younger students in Castleisland Community College,” Ms. McEllistrem concluded.

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