KCVS held a Mental Health Awareness Day on school grounds on Friday last 5th of May, but that is not the entire story. This day was an accumulation of a year’s long effort and it was a two pronged approach. The first was to promote the value of mental health awareness to the entire school population and, secondly, the Green School’s committee wished to impress the importance of physical fitness on everyone in KCVS. This undertaking was run in conjunction with a number of external agencies and contributed in no small way to the capture of the schools’ 4th Green Flag. A glorious day in which the sun gods shined on us was attended by a number of local dignitaries and all were suitably impressed with proceedings!!
This year’s Green Flag involved the Kilkenny Men’s Shed and their contribution was invaluable. KCVS’ Green School committee came up with the idea of bike mending as one of the themes that made up the bid to capture the Travel Flag for the school. The Kilkenny Men’s Shed were crucial in this venture as it was their offer of mending the bikes that kick started the project, it was them, along with Chiara Hanrahan from An Taisce, that got the ball rolling and the committee are hugely grateful to both parties.
From our own point of view, it was crucial we garnered the support of our cohorts in KCVS, so the first thing we did was visit each year group and explain our proposal. We explained that if any of them had bikes that were in need of slight repair, then the Men’s Shed would carry out the repairs free of charge, and return the bikes to the school, and the bikes could be purchased for a nominal fee which would be donated to a pertinent charity. We were overwhelmed with the response!! Each year group promised to bring in their bikes and each and every one held up their end of the bargain! Our irreplaceable caretaker Patsy Murphy delivered and collected the bikes as they were fixed and the committee are eternally appreciative and indebted to this great man, without whom the school would be a far far lesser place!! In KCVS we pride ourselves on whole school involvement in activities like this, and this endeavour was no different, from day one the whole school was behind us and we are truly thankful to all who brought in their bikes, student and staff alike.
Onto the day itself, as was pointed out above, the Action Day was the focal point of a long drive to attain our 4th Green Flag (an achievement not bettered by any secondary school in Kilkenny!!) and we are delighted to announce that we have been successful in that drive!! Present in the school on the day were local councillors, Joe Malone and Malcolm Noonan, along with Seamus Nugent, from Kilkenny Recreational and Sports Partnership who all spoke with passion and verve on the value of protecting, not just our physical health, but also our mental health, and the value of being involved in some activity on a local or personal level. The gathering present were enthralled in the three men’s’ storytelling and the effect was evident when all were inundated with questions afterwards. Our own chairperson Tyler O’ Callaghan spoke very eloquently when wrapping up proceedings and then it was onto the yard!!
The action part of the day was the highlight for many. The plan here was for two teams to cycle the perimeter of County Kilkenny. To do this we needed some way of monitoring progress, and Halford’s Kilkenny generously supplied us with frames and pedometers to gauge our headway on the trip around the county! Mr. Brennan and Mr. Henebery, from the Art and Woodwork departments respectfully, had kindly and skilfully produced a huge map of County Kilkenny in black and amber so the viewers could have an idea of where the cyclists had reached.
The teams, which were led by Joe and Malcolm, all took turns in cycling and all did their part in making this day a huge success. They included Kilkenny’s last All-Ireland Senior winning captain Joey Holden, his team-mate Richie Reid and numerous staff members, along with the inestimable effort of our fellow students without whom this would have been impossible,!! With Mr. Walsh, our Green Schools coordinator, doing a running commentary and letting the crowd know exactly where teams were placed in the race, the student body fully participated, with various chants emerging from the throngs as their favourites saddled up and cycled for their team!!
While mental health is the most serious of issues and nothing to be taken lightly, we felt this was a novel way of broaching the topic, while at the same time having some much needed exercise and fun, and hopefully the people at the centre of this project, the students, can take something from it. If the only thing that’s garnered from this is, that there’s no shame in admitting we’re not feeling well mentally and realising that we may help, then the Green Schools committee are very happy to have achieved this.
The next appointment for KCVS’ Green Schools is the award of the Green Flag which takes place in Hotel Kilkenny on 23rd May, and we are delighted to announce that two of our students have been chosen to perform at the ceremony, the committee would like to extend our very best wishes to Niamh and Mikey and look forward to their unique rendition of Wrap the Green Flag Round Me!! We would also like to offer our thanks to our principal Ms. McSorley, every ship needs a captain and none better than ours!! Also deserving of our gratitude are; Chiara Hanrahan from An Taisce, who was invaluable in all of this, Kilkenny Men’s Shed who were fantastic throughout and donated a bike to us, Halford’s for providing us with the bike stands, Patsy Murphy for his tireless efforts, Malcolm, Seamus and Joe for coming in and giving us the inspirational and insightful talks and giving us all food for thought, Bernadette Moloney from Kilkenny County Council who provided some much needed and appreciated funds for the repairs, Richie Reid and all teachers and students who either participated or helped in the organising of the event. The school is rightly proud of our recent achievements and we have reached regional and national finals in recent times, and this is just the latest in a long line of wonderful achievements for KCVS. We have an amazing staff and the school is on an upward curve and as a rising tide lifts all boats, then these accomplishments can only serve to make us the school our students, staff and parents deserve it to be, KCVS ABU!!!
All of the schools current and previous great work can be viewed on our Kilkenny City Vocational School Facebook page.