The Son and The Moon

Following an interview with a participant in my research who spoke openly about his experience of adoption, I decided to write this piece from his perspective. 

The Son and The Moon

I remember when I was young,

my parents told me ‘never look into the sun’,

And I was their sun,

So I never looked into the mirror,

in case I went blind,

In case, of what I might find.


You see they weren’t really my parents,

And I wasn’t really their sun,

I was more like,

The Moon,

The dim light that shines on mother Earth at night,

But just a reflection,

of what shone in the afternoon.


Sort of a like a mirror eh?

Maybe that’s why I avoided the mirror?

Because when you put a mirror in front of a mirror, there are endless reflections,

Light bounces back and forth, neither mirror accepting it as their own,

Both indifferent,

Endless reflections, but none significant.


It’s hard to know how to be yourself,

But self-knowledge isn’t a book you find on a book shelf,

Too many problems to list them, not enough people to listen.


Shane O’Donnell

Active Future Programme – Week 8 – The Graduation

Overview of the Active Future Programme here –

Overview of Week 7 here –

Apologies for my delayed post on the final week of the Active Future Programme. I have been in Sao Paulo, Brazil  at Seminario Internacional MOVE Brasil, presenting the Active Future Programme to those in attendance. The conference was an amazing opportunity to meet some Latin American Youth on the MOVE participants and share ideas on how to continue to grow the MOVEment. To talk with and see how these young minds are using innovative techniques and programmes to tackle various cultural and social issues was a true inspiration. It has been such a privilege to share a room with these people and now call them a friend.  The community of Youth on the MOVE participants is only growing stronger and stronger and I feel that this network of young minds can really make an impact in the world of promoting physical activity.

Sadly, Week 8 was the final week of the Active Future Programme but we had a great send off to both the students and participants with a small graduation ceremony for those involved. Plus there was free pizza so everybody was happy!

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Physical Activity Input

The physical activity input was a lot shorter than previous weeks as we needed to allow more time for our Future Me Plan and graduation ceremony. With this in mind we had a short game of football rounders. This is similar to the style of baseball which involves rounding the various posts to score points. The difference here is the ball is rolled and kicked instead of being thrown and batted. This was a really nice way to finish off our physically activity sessions as there was a lot of fun and enjoyment had by all. From the beginning of the programme I felt it was important to promote ways of becoming physically active outside the typical sports played in Ireland (GAA football/hutling, soccer, and rugby). Many people find it difficult to become physically active when you are not interested in sports. Furthermore, with the rising price of gyms and leisure centres, it can become very difficult to find fun ways of being physically activity. That is why our physically activity sessions had a focus on education and fun – showing ways to be active that are fun, and giving them the tools to design their own sessions.

Pop Quiz and Future Me Plan

We gave our participants a pop quiz on all of the topics we covered in our physical activity and physical and mental health inputs. However, the aim of this was not to grade the participants on how well they did but to use it as a form of reflective practice. We had each participant paired up with one Sports Science student to reflect on what they had learned and done throughout the programme. We encouraged our students to aid and question the participants on their answers in the hope that it might elicit discussions around how they might implement these learnings in their everyday life. Following this, we had our participants fill out their Future Me Plan which involved writing down 5 things they would like to change about their health. With the use of our step plan that we learned about last week, the participants then filled in the 6 steps they would use to achieve these goals.

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Finally we had the Head of the Department of Science and Health, Paula Rankin, give out certificates to acknowledge the wonderful contribution of everyone involved in the Active Future Programme. This was followed by some pizza and a small party amongst all those involved.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who was involved in the development and implementation of the programme and most of all, the participants of the programme. Without any of these people, the programme would not have been possible. It was an absolute honour to work with everyone involved and I can’t thank everyone enough for their contribution. However, this is not the end of the Active Future Programme. Our next steps will be to ensure that this programme runs for a second year. Therefore, in the next few months we will be busy evaluating the whole process to prove that it was effective and worthwhile. Our goal is to bring back our participants from this year as mentors for year 2 and aid with the new Sports Science students in delivering year 2. Finally, we hope to start rolling this programme out to other campuses across the country, so stay tuned to see the growth of the Active Future Programme!

The Active Future Programme is an 8 week programme based in Ireland aiming to promote physical activity and further education among adolescents. We strive to challenge stigmas and misconceptions around mental and physical health. It is run on campus of I.T. Carlow and in association with the Tullow School Completion Programme and the Tullow Secondary School. This blog is updated each week and follows the progress of the programme. If you would like more information on the programme or have any questions in general you can contact me by email – or

Active Future Programme – Week 7 -Dodgeball, Sexual Health & Step Plans

Overview of the Active Future Programme here –

Overview of Week 6 here –

It was the penultimate week here at the Active Future Programme and the Sports Science students delivered two excellent sessions as always. Next week (5th December) I fly out Brazil to present at Seminario MOVE. I was invited to this conference to give an overview of the Active Future Programme and my experience on the Youth on the MOVE programme. I am excited and feel very privileged to have been invited to this event and I cannot wait to inform those in attendance on the great work done by my team and I on the Active Future Programme. I have plans to upload my presentation if anyone is interested in hearing it. Continue reading to find out what we did on week 7!

Physical Health Input

This week’s topic was sexual health, one which we felt was very important to cover with adolescents of this age (16-18). The students educated the participants on the signs and symptoms of the most common sexually transmitted infections, using contraception and  where to get checked for STIs around the locality. Did you know in Ireland in 2015, 12, 590 cases of STIs were reported and that 11% of college students in Ireland test positive for STI’s? Some STIs don’t even show any symptoms and can cause infertility. However, it is not all negative, as most STIs are treatable so it is important to go to an STI clinic and get checked regularly. A discussion ensued between the students and the participants on how keeping a condom in your wallet may cause them to deteriorate, how often to get tested for STIs and referral pathways to STI clinics from the GP.

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Physical Activity Input

This week we went for more a fun orientated focus and let our participants get some back on our leaders in a game of dodgeball! The rules are simple, if you get hit below the hip you are out, if you catch a ball your opponent is out and one member of your team can return. We really had a great time playing this game which was evident from the laughter and smiles throughout the game. You can modify this game in many ways through altering the number of balls,  the size of the court, the size of the teams and additional rules (hitting a specific player knocks the whole team out) to ensure that everyone achieves some success in the game.

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Mental Health Input

Last but no least, was Michael Byrne’s mental health input on creating step plans.This followed on from last week’s input on problem solving where the last step was to take action on your problem. Often problems or tasks seem impossible to manage or achieve, leading us to feel overwhelmed and stressed. However, Michael explained that the only way to overcome these issues is with one small step at at time or as he put in ”the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”. He introduced the step plan framework which outlined how to tackle such issues in a very pragmatic and useful way. Basically , you break this big problem it various small step, which get more challenging with each increment.  Breaking problems down into these smaller steps also means that we feel good after we have completed each small step. This helps us to be confident enough to take on the next, slightly more difficult step. I think the participants and students really found this session helpful as it is approaching exam time which can be very overwhelming.

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Sadly, next week is the last week for the Active Future Programme so drop by to see how the graduation went. We strive to make the Active Future Programme sustainable and worthwhile for all involved so I welcome any suggestions anyone might have on improving the programme. Additionally, if I can answer some questions you may have about the Active Future Programme or about promoting physical activity in general, please email me and I will be sure to get back to you.

The Active Future Programme is an 8 week programme based in Ireland aiming to promote physical activity and further education among adolescents. We strive to challenge stigmas and misconceptions around mental and physical health. It is run on campus of I.T. Carlow and in association with the Tullow School Completion Programme and the Tullow Secondary School. This blog is updated each week and follows the progress of the programme. If you would like more information on the programme or have any questions in general you can contact me by email – or

Active Future Programme – Week 6 – Safe Gym Use, Smoking & Importance of Sleep & Problem Solving.

Overview of the Active Future Programme here –

Overview of Week 5 here –

Week 6 of the Active Future saw us going back to our usual template, consisting of a physical activity input, physical health input and a mental health input.  It is coming towards the end of the programme and I was searching for answers as to why the programme ran so smoothly. I came to the conclusion that it was our team and partners involved in the project. A major factor in any working relationship is trust and I feel that everyone involved, the participants, leaders and partners had mutual trust and respect for each other. Another reason why there was so much trust was becuase many of us had worked together in the past. Look for existing partnerships or relationships that you already possess and seek to make your programme fit their aims, goals or principals. Read on to see how week 6 of the Active Future Programme went.

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Physical Health Input

After a few weeks of working with the participants, the power was handed over to the Sports Science students to decide what topic(s) were important to deliver.  Based on what they had learned from the participants thus far, smoking and sleeping were the topics of choice – which the students delivered in excellent fashion. The participants were shocked to learn that tobacco kills up to half it’s users and 5 million people per year!. Indeed, 600,000 people die per year from second hand smoke alone. The participants then entered a discussion about why they started smoking and many agreed that it was a result of peer pressure. Perhaps a new innovative way is needed to tackle smoking and kill it at it’s route? Next up was sleep and 7-9 hrs is recommended depending on the individual. The participants spoke of getting only 5-7 hrs with many citing worry and being on their phone as the primary reason. We then revised some of our relaxation techniques covered in week 2.

Physical Activity Input

See the video for a taster of the exercises that we covered! The students guided the participants through safe gym use across a variety of equipment and exercises. The students informed the participants on correct form and technique when lifting free weights and machine weight,  as well as different tempos and volumes that can be used to make exercises harder or easier.Next up was the cardio equipment where students explained the different heart rates zones that can be worked in, which all have  a different physiological effect. The participants were shown how to use the treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical, rower and step machine to name but a few.

Mental Health Input

Last but not least, was our mental health input which covered the topic of problem solving. Michael Byrne guided the students through the 5 stage problem solving plan which can be a useful tool when trying to solve a particular problem or issue.

  1. State the problem. Sometimes this is not always easy. Michael reverted back to a previous section on understanding our thoughts. Is this a helpful or unhelpful though? Is there evidence to support that this is in fact a problem? If so…
  2. What could you do? Brainstorm for all possible solutions. Even if they seem very abstract ideas write them down – they could prove useful or at least cathartic.
  3. List what might happen for each of these solutions. Then pick which solution is best based on the consequence.
  4.  Do it! This can prove very difficult and may involve a lot of rehearsing on what to say and/or do. This is normal.
  5. Evaluation – Did it work? Evaluate the pro’s and con’s of the solution. If it worked great, if it didn’t work ,go back a pick another solution you listed from step 2.

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Next week is week 7 and the penultimate week of the Active Future Programme. To say time flies is an underestimation. Stop by next week to see how it went and as always email me if you have any questions about the programme or you would like advice on starting your own programme.

The Active Future Programme is an 8 week programme based in Ireland aiming to promote physical activity and further education among adolescents. We strive to challenge stigmas and misconceptions around mental and physical health. It is run on campus of I.T. Carlow and in association with the Tullow School Completion Programme and the Tullow Secondary School. This blog is updated each week and follows the progress of the programme. If you would like more information on the programme or have any questions in general you can contact me by email – or

Active Future Programme – Week 5 – The Grand Tour

Find an overview of the programme here –

This week adopted a change of format as we had the grand tour of the I.T. Carlow campus which took up the entirety of this week’s inputs. At the beginning of the programme participants were asked to list the courses in the college that they might be interested in studying. These ranged from Sports Science to Media Production, Bioforensics to Engineering and more. Based on this information we tried to organize a tour of the college  that suited these needs of the participants, which gave them a taster of  what the courses entail and which gave them an overall view of the facilities and support structures available in I.T. Carlow.

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First up on the tour, we were shown the Barrow Centre which is the sports hub for I.T. Carlow. You may have seen many pictures of the Barrow Centre already if you have been reading this blog, as it was the backdrop for many of the pictures that were uploaded.  We use the lecture theaters, basketball court and activity room in the Barrow Centre each week to run our various inputs. We were then taken upstairs where we were shown the gym, which is available to all students of the college, and the elite performance gym which is reserved for collegiate athletes and students of Sports Science, Sports Rehabilitation and Strength and Conditioning. From here we were taken to the physiology laboratory where various testing protocols are carried out to ascertain athletes key performance indicators.Our Sports Science students were on hand to answer the many questions participants had about studying human performance.

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We continued on to the science laboratories where many fantastic and mystifying science experiments were taking place! I.T. Carlow offers a vast range of science courses from environmental science to brewing and distilling, so we tried to pack in as much information as we could.  Next up was the humanities building where we peaked in some windows and saw what innovative products industrial design and product design innovation students were making.  From here we traveled across to the Engineering Building and checked out what the mechanical engineering and electronic engineering courses had to offer. I think the aerospace engineering and aircraft systems management courses were the shining stars of this department with various airplanes and helicopter on display for all to see.


We then moved across to the library and the participants saw the tv and media production room where students were busy of producing a movie about a mishap in the operating room of plastic surgeon’s theater. Perhaps they had been inspired by Halloween!

Finally , the participants were shown some of the lecture theaters of I.T. Carlow and were given a talk from our access officer Aisling McHugh. Aisling informed the students on the different routes to third level that students can avail of if they do not meet the requirements of their desired degree. She explained the benefits of the access programme which provides additional supports and finances to students who are eligible and also discussed different financial supports options that are available to certain students. She gave a very comprehensive overview of all of the sports and recreational clubs in the college and outlined the various mental and physical health supports that were available to students such as the doctor, the nurse, the counselors etc. The participants then met back up with the Sports Science students who answered additional questions on the college experience and offered advice where possible. It was great to see many of the students talking about the different courses that they wished to do with many of them expressing an interest that they would like to come to I.T. Carlow.

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Next week we will be back to business as usual, where we will be covering mental and physical health inputs along with a fun physical activity session. Stop by next week to see how week 6 of the Active Future Programme went. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about the Active Future Programme or if you would like to start your own initiative and are not sure how to go about it. See you next week!

The Active Future Programme is an 8 week programme based in Ireland aiming to promote physical activity and further education among adolescents. We strive to challenge stigmas and misconceptions around mental and physical health. It is run on campus of I.T. Carlow and in association with the Tullow School Completion Programme and the Tullow Secondary School. This blog is updated each week and follows the progress of the programme. If you would like more information on the programme or have any questions in general you can contact me by email – or

Active Future Programme – Week 3 – Resistance Training, Hydration & Thought Awareness.

You can find an overview of the project here

You can find the blog relating to week 2 here

This week marked week 3 of the Active Future Programme where we welcomed 2 new participants. Participant numbers are now up to 22 which is more than initially expected! I am really happy to see the same participants returning each week. It really makes your day when you see 22 adolescents, having fun and engaging in physical activity with a smile on their face! Well, lets get into it and see what topics we covered this week!

Physical Health Input

The topic of conversation this week was hydration – how much, how often, and how to know if you are dehydrated. Did you know that males should take in 3l of water a day (12 glasses)  and 2.2l for women (8 glasses)? However, this may vary depending on the weather, how much you have exercised or if you are sick. Our body needs water for many different functions such as maintaining temperature,removing waste and lubricating the joints, so it is important to know if you are dehydrated. You can do this by looking at the colour of your urine – a dark yellow colour would signify dehydration. A slight tint of yellow in the urine would signify that you are optimally hydrated.

Physical Activity Input

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This week the Sports Science students delivered a session on resistance training. The students explained the importance of a balanced circuit i.e. upper body and lower body exercises incorporating push and pull movements. The students discussed the differences between last week’s HIIT session and this week’s resistance session. They explained that last week’s focus was more on increasing fitness levels whereas this week’s session was to focus on strength. The participants were then given the task to design and balanced resistance training circuit (including upper and lower body exercises) without the use of any equipment. Needless to say they passed with flying colours and created a very comprehensive session! Have a look at the video above to see what activities we covered!

Mental Health Input 

Michael Byrne of the Tullow School Completion Programme did an excellent job exploring thoughts and how to move away from unhelpful thoughts. He explained that our thoughts can be categorised into 3 areas – factual thoughts, helpful thoughts and unhelpful thoughts. Factual thoughts are evidence based thoughts that are proven to be the case e.g. physical activity is good for your health. Helpful thoughts move us forward towards our goals, they help us or others e.g. I might enjoy this new activity. However, unhelpful thoughts tend to stop us from doing things, and hurt us or others e.g. I won’t be good at that activity I am not doing it. The students were given the task to take note of  their thoughts over the next week and categorise them as they come into their head. If we can change or thoughts as they come into our head we can move away from unhelpful thoughts towards helpful ones. Example – ”I don’t want to go to the party I don’t know anybody there, I won’t have fun (unhelpful thought)”. However if we think ”One of my friends will be there so I can talk to him and I might make new friends. If i feel uncomfortable I can leave early”.

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Sports Science students explaining the resistance training session.

The Active Future Programme is an 8 week programme based in Ireland aiming to promote physical activity,  and overall health & well-being. We strive to challenge some stigmas and misconceptions surrounding mental and physical health whilst encouraging further education amongst this cohort. The Active Future Programme is run on the campus of I.T. Carlow in association with the Tullow School Completion Programme and the Tullow Secondary School. This blog is updated each week and follows the progress of the programme. If you would like more information on the programme or have any questions in general you can contact me by email – or


Youth on the MOVE

Mentor Training – Competence, Confidence and Striving for Self-Efficacy.


If you missed my introductory blog last week you can find it here 

The Importance of Mentors and Managing Self-Doubt 

The importance and benefits of having a mentor(s) is irrefutable. At some point in your life, through sport, music, work or other interests, you may have considered someone your mentor.  What made them standout in your mind? Their experience? Their advice and support? Maybe it was the way in which they gave advice – with empathy and understanding.  To me a mentor is someone who could provide me with trusted advice, support, and guidance at a level I can understand in a non-judgemental manner. Whoever your mentor may have been or still continues to be, motivates you to be the best and inspires you to be even more.

”Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction” John C.Crosby.

I have always sought out a mentor to guide me in the right direction. For me I have mentors who are friends, family members, sports coaches and college lecturers. These people have life experience and education in areas I want to improve in. To me these people are experts, who have attained a certain level of mastery in these areas – fully competent and confident in their ability. But often, this is not how they perceive or see themselves. A certain level of self-doubt exists in all of us but that is not to say that self-doubt is a bad thing. Self- doubt is what makes us stop and search for alternatives,what makes us question if we are doing the right thing – self-doubt,ultimately, is  a means to prepare. Self-doubt  becomes destructive when it consumes you and undermines your self-worth but self-doubt that leads to resolution, is a powerful trait that must be cultivated. Indeed,  Galileo professed self-doubt as the ”father of all invention”.

Self-doubt ”the father of all invention” Galileo.   

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Michael Byrne (Tullow School Completion Programme) delivering the mentor training.

Active Future Programme Mentor Training

I had my own  self-doubts with the Active Future Programme soon approaching. Will it run smoothly? Will it reach the people who need it most? Will it be worthwhile and benefit the participants? I had self-doubts about my own capabilities in co-coordinating the programme, but most of all, I had self-doubts in my ability to be a mentor. How could I be the best possible mentor to the Sport Science students delivering the programme and to the participants engaging in the programme?  I was also concerned that the Sports Science students might have similar self-doubts about mentoring.  This is why mentor training is so important when designing programmes of this nature – to nurture confidence and competence and strive for self-efficacy in delivering the programme.

Michael Byrne – the co-designer and coordinator of the programme – delivered an excellent session on mentor training with our Sport Science students this past week. The focus of the training was to provide our students with the tools necessary to be the best possible mentor, to answer any worries or concerns they might have and to educate on child protection and health and safety practices.

The mentors engaged in group discussions exploring how to effectively deal with various scenarios. Some of these scenarios included how to involve participants who don’t want to participate, how to deal with bullying issues and what to do in the event of participants becoming physically aggressive. An input on managing behaviours proved to be very useful to the students, outlining the do’s, don’t and tips of managing behaviours. Some interesting things I learned to consider when managing behaviours were; (i) to consider how you (as a mentor) are feeling (stressed, angry, distracted) and how this might impact managing behaviours (ii) what does the young person need, want, or feel – how do you provide or support this in the correct manner  (iii) who else is involved – others within earshot might further distress the individual and (iv) your surroundings – blocking off a participant’s route to leave the surroundings might further cause distress and potentially put yourself at risk.

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Mentors engaging in group discussions. 

Michael guided the mentors through leader boundaries and responsibilities some of which included; avoiding connection with participants on social media, how to develop a professional, supportive and appropriate relationship with participants, and how to handle different types of disclosures from participants. The mentor training was wrapped up with a very comprehensive health and safety input covering mentor safety in engaging with this cohort, child protection in sport, and screening  equipment to ensure it is fit for purpose.

I know I found the mentor training extremely useful and I believe the mentors did too. It certainly has made me feel more capable to engage with the participants, dismiss some of my fears and  deliver the inputs in the best possible way. If it wasn’t for self-doubt none of this would have been possible!

Follow my blog next week to get an update on how the first week of the Active Future Programme went.

The Active Future Programme begins the 7th of October. This blog will be updated each week to follow the progress of the programme! If would like more information on the programme or have any questions in general you can contact me by email – or

Active Future Programme: Using Physical Activity to Promote Education amongst Adolescents At Risk of Early School Leaving


At the beginning of the year I was lucky enough to be selected as a participant for the Youth on The MOVE programme – a platform for  30 young minds across Europe to explore ways of implementing grass-root campaigns and initiatives for promoting health and wellbeing. This comprehensive programme consisted of a 5 month online training course in physical activity promotion and a 5 days of offline training  in Barcelona.  The International Sport and Culture Association (ISCA) recognised and identified the need for more training for youth in the field of sport and events, and designed the Youth on the MOVE (YOTM) project to help meet this need. Having the opportunity to be part of this programme and share a room with so many great young minds in Barcelona was one of the best experiences of my life.The overall aim of this project was for participants to plan physical activity events in their respective countries and get their nation moving. I came back to  Ireland inspired, motivated and ready to make a change, but my question was – who do I target and what could have the widest impact?



As we know physical inactivity is a major problem of growing concern both globally and nationally (Ireland), specifically amongst the adolescent population.The rise in inactivity can be partially attributed to changes in our society. Advancements in technology has reduced the physical efforts in many of our daily tasks  and increased our time spent sitting. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that fourth-fifths of European adolescents are insufficiently active. Indeed in Ireland, it is reported that only 19% of primary and 12% of post-primary children meet the recommended daily physical activity levels – that is moderate to vigorous activity for at least 60 minutes every day. Failure to meet these requirements can have serious health consequences including increased risk of developing cancer, type II diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome (The Economic Cost of Physical Inactivity in Europe, 2015).  This report also found that those from lower socioeconomic groupings are less likely to engage in physical activity in comparison to their more affluent counterparts. Indeed, the CSPPA report in Ireland noted that lower socioeconomic groups were less likely to take part in after school activity, but there was no difference whilst in the school setting (CSPAA, 2010).

”…benefits of playing sports…at secondary school found students who played more sports in their final school years were more likely to continue a formal education after leaving school” (ERSI, 2005)

Physical activity not only benefits physical health but also mental, social and emotional health. Increasing your physical activity levels is associated with reductions in depression, anxiety, and emotional disturbances while providing opportunities to meet new people and increase social supports. Additionally,  a report on school children and participation in sport found that ;  ”…at secondary school…students who played more sports in their final school years were more likely to continue a formal education after leaving school” suggesting a possible link between physical activity and educational progression (ERSI, 2005). Using physical activity as a hook or a carrot to engage people in programmes with an alternative focus has also been found to be very effective (Young Men and Suicide Report, 2012). I discovered the area in which I was working had the highest school drop-out rate in the country for both school cycles compared to the national average. Also, Ireland has the fourth highest suicide rate amongst young people aged 15-24 in the EU and sadly there has been an increase in suicides amongst this age group in the local community.

Considering this, I set about  designing a programme aimed at young adolescents at risk of early school leaving and exploring how physical activity might play a role in supporting this cohort. A partnership was made with Michael Byrne from the Tullow School Completion Programme and we designed the Active Future Programme.

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Members of Tullow Secondary School, Tullow School Completion Programme and I.T. Carlow.

The Active Future Programme 


  • To promote and encourage physical activity and healthy living amongst  adolescents and those at risk of early school leaving.
  • To encourage progression to third level education amongst this cohort.


  • To explore and challenge attitudes and stereotypes with regard to third level education, physical fitness, body image and mental health.
  • To identify barriers that compound participants’ will for early school leaving and provide them personal motivation and problem solving training.
  • To introduce participants to a third level educational environment working closely with third level students to establish appropriate relationships and mentoring.

The programme will consist of 20 participants as identified by the School Completion Programme on the campus of the Institute of Technology Carlow. It  has been  integrated  into the Sport Science year 3 curriculum where the Sport Science students will be working closely with the adolescents, delivering  inputs, mentoring and providing support for the duration of the project.Mentor training will be provided to all Sport Science students prior to commencement of the programme. The programme will run for an 8 week period and consist of the following;

2pm: Healthy Meal

Students will arrive on campus at be given a healthy meal each week.

2.30pm: Physical Health Input

This short lecture style input will be delivered by Sport Science students  involving different components of physical health e.g.the food pyramid, hydration, important of sleep.

On Week 7, participants  will be given a tour of the college facilities and have the option to sit in on lectures of their choice and sample college courses they might be interested in. Following this, week 8 will see participants  get the opportunity to meet representatives from  the courses they are interested in and ask questions on what that course might be like to study.

2.45pm: Physical Activity Input 

Sports Science students will deliver a different physical activity class each week. These classes seek to promote ways to be physically active outside of structured sports (i.e. soccer, rugby, volleyball). Some of the inputs include zumba, using a gym correctly, fun orientated games.

3.25pm: Mental Health Input 

Michael Byrne will deliver inputs aimed to promote positive mental health and wellbeing amongst the participants. Some of the inputs include coping strategies, understanding your behaviours and problem solving techniques.

3.35pm Future Me Plan

Participants will write down one thing they will change about their health based on what they learned that day. They will then report back to the group the following week on how the proposed changes went. By the end of the 8 weeks participants will have developed their Future Me Plan on how to change their health.

Proposed Outcomes:

On completion, participants will be able to;

  1. Evaluate their attitudes and stereotypes with regard to third level education, fitness and self-image.
  2. Identify the barriers that would prevent them from attending third level education.
  3. Apply problem solving and personal motivation skills training to design a personal action plan (Future Me Plan).
  4. Design a personal fitness plan using the information provided.
  5. Assess behaviours, activities and food and determine if they are unhealthy or unhelpful.
  6. List university courses they might be interested in.


The programme will be evaluated using qualitative and quantitative methodologies.  A final year Sports Science student will complete and evaluation report as part of their final year dissertation. Focus groups will be help pre- and post-intervention to explore participants barriers to physical activity/education, how they conceptualise health, and how their views may have changed following the programme. A needs and assets assessment questionnaire  will be completed each week by participants to track their physical and mental health, perceptions of education and sense of belonging etc.

The Active Future Programme has been designed by and run in association with I.T. Carlow (Ireland), Tullow School Completion Programme and Tullow Secondary School. The project is supported by Youth on the MOVE and  begins the 7th of October. This blog will be updated each week to follow the progress of the programme! If would like more information on the programme or have any questions in general you can contact me by email – or