Active Future Programme – Week 8 – The Graduation

Overview of the Active Future Programme here – http://wp.me/p7Xkia-4

Overview of Week 7 here – http://wp.me/p7Xkia-hg

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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Graduation

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 – shaneodonnell92@gmail.com or shane.odonnell@itcarlow.ie

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

Overview of the Active Future Programme here – http://wp.me/p7Xkia-4

Overview of Week 6 here – http://wp.me/p7Xkia-fa

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 – shaneodonnell92@gmail.com or shane.odonnell@itcarlow.ie