Offaly school students mark 'Positive Wellbeing Week'

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Students at Offaly's Killina Presentation Secondary School recently marked their third annual 'Positive Wellbeing Week' with a series of events and guest speakers.

Throughout the week, a variety of activities and guest speakers informed, challenged and entertained all the students and the whole school community. 

A recurring theme from each speaker was the importance of being yourself and recognising your self worth and potential as a means of positive affirmation and building resilience. 

Each speaker also welcomed the changes evolving nationally with regards awareness and attitudes towards mental health, acknowledging progress while still maintaining that there is a lot more that can and should be done.

The first speaker was Grainne Walsh, a past pupil who has represented Ireland in international soccer but has since switched to boxing, in which she aspires to emulate Katie Taylor and become an Olympian. 

Grainne’s talk to the 5th and 6th year students was both inspirational and very informative, and as a recent past pupil, her story resonated particularly with the students.

The 5th and 6th year students also had the opportunity to practice yoga and meditation with Tanya Whelehan. The importance of establishing a quiet time and space in order to relax and de-stress was highlighted here, and also some very useful advice regarding turning off phones and just reducing distractions periodically as a way to recharge and re-energise.

Tuesday began with high-octane Zumba classes coordinated by Darinda Cuskelly for 2nd and then 3rd years as part of a fun and lively way to demonstrate the positive effects of exercise and movement. 

Meanwhile, Anthony Kearns from Guy Clothing in Tullamore, also a past pupil, spoke passionately to the 4th and 5th year boys about the importance of building a positive self image and channeling your energies towards your goals and ambitions. 

Once again, as a former student, his story was instantly relatable for the audience, and he provided sound and practical advice and encouragement for all.

At the same time, Brenda and Bairbre Jennings from The Retreat in Tullamore spoke to the TY and 6th year girls, and then the 4th and 5th year girls about positive self image and resilience. They provided information and tips about beauty and skincare, as well as mindfulness and fostering self-confidence.

Jason Dowling from The Samaritans, alongside Tony Hickey, provided an excellent talk to 3rd and 6th year students on the work and role of the Samaritans and promoting awareness of mental health issues. This was an excellent presentation, highlighting the importance of reaching out for help where it’s needed, and also being mindful of looking out for others.

Thursday saw Angela Corcoran give an excellent talk to 2nd year students about emotional health, self image and building resilience. Darinda again energised the 1st and 4th year students with Zumba classes, while the 4th years were also very busy helping to organise the Scholastic Book Fair, following weeks of preparation and promotion around the school.

Last Friday morning was the turn of the teachers in the Great Killina Bake Off with some teachers showing off hidden talents, and others less so, according to reports.

Finally, the highlight of the week was the Killina’s Got Talent show, which provided tremendous entertainment as a whole host of students demonstrated musical, comic, singing and dancing skills. Members of staff and the Student Council were the very impressed judges, and following lengthy deliberations, Finley O’Brien's (2nd year) hilarious stand-up and impressions were voted 3rd, Mary-Ann Hughes’ cover of Riptide came 2nd, and the runaway winners were the 6th year lads Synchronised Swimming routine. Grainne Walsh might just know a few people on the plane to the Olympics after all!

Overall the week was an outstanding success and a massive credit to the Student Council, Trisha McNeill, Anita Dillon, Philip Austin, Deirdre Creaven and Lynne Kennedy as the organising committee, the staff and school management for all the hard work behind the scenes organising and coordinating the various activities.