Castleisland Community College wins National Garda Youth Safety Award 2021

Members of the award winning Castleisland Community College team: Elaine Murphy, teacher; Adam Cotter, Nathan Egan, Ellie Lenihan, Adam Joy, Sarah Dunleavy, Caoimhe Mc Carthy, Alex Regan, Rachel O Sullivan, Leah Boyle, Konrad Kloskowski, Paul O Mahoney, Katie O Connor, Gráinne Spillane, Chelsey Hayes, Micheál O Shea, Jack Mc Govern and Teresa Lonergan, principal.

The Lifesavers group from Castleisland Community College under the guidance of Elaine Murphy won the National Garda Youth Safety Award 2021.

This is the second time in three years that the school has won this national award and it is the third consecutive Lee Strand Kerry Garda Youth Achievement Award won by the school.

The representatives were presented with their award at the Garda National Headquarters in Portlaoise.

Initiative, Leadership and Dedication

“The Lifesavers showed great initiative, leadership and dedication throughout the project in Transition Year,” said Ms. Murphy.

From a series of questionnaires and research the students elected to raise awareness about the importance of heart health and how to maintain a happy and healthy heart through keeping active and healthy eating.

They were shocked to learn that, every day, 13 people die in Ireland from cardiac arrest. They carried out a survey in school and found that only five percent of the students had CPR training and less than two percent of these would be confident enough to use it in an emergency.

Practical Hands on Training

They concluded that practical hands on training would build skills and confidence in this area and help save lives.

They learned that when you perform CPR, you can double, if not triple, the person’s chance of survival.

So they researched the work of the Irish heart foundation and knew they wanted to partner with them to train students in CPR through their CPR for Schools Programme.

Once completed the students were equipped to train all students in Castleisland Community College.

Irish Heart Foundation Mobile Unit

They wanted to engage with the local community and so they again worked with the Irish Heart Foundation to get their Mobile Health Unit to Castleisland.

It offered free blood pressure checks, pulse checks, lifestyle advice and heart health information. This had a huge impact in the community as 64% of those who attended were referred on to a GP for further check-up possibly saving many lives.

The group partnered with Slí na Sláinte to map out walking routes and create a display board at the entrance of the school.

Healthier Happier Hearts

This encouraged more students to get active and students could also track their steps leading to a healthier happier heart and will be the group’s legacy to Castleisland Community College.

They also created a peer mentoring programme for first years and organised events like a rugby tournament.

In an emergency phone call, the responder asks for the Eircode which is often not to hand or is still often unknown.

So the students saw an opportunity and designed fridge magnets with a space to write your Eircode. It was well received by members of the local community. The students set up a stall at Garveys Super Valu and gave out the magnets.

In Pressurised Situations

The Eircode magnets have the potential to save many lives as in these pressurised situations it is something you can forget and gives the ambulance services your exact location.

Teacher Elaine Murphy said that the students displayed great enthusiasm in the course of their work.

“From the moment they decided on this safety issue they tirelessly worked to make a difference in their school and local community. Even when Covid 19 struck this group continued to display passion and creativity in such a trying time,” said Ms. Murphy.

Random Act of Kindness

“They felt that Covid 19 meant a lot of uncertainty for students and people in the locality.

They wanted to continue promoting heart health and mental health in what they called Lifesavers week.

“They gave the community a seven day challenge to keep their hearts healthy and minds sane during lock-down e.g. Get active, Let’s cook and Random Act of Kindness.

“Overall, we at Castleisland Community College are so proud of the Lifesavers achievements,” the proud teacher concluded.

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