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

Active Future Programme – Week 4 – Zumba and The Physical & Mental Effects of Drug and Alcohol Misuse.

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

Week 3 of the Active Future Programme here – http://wp.me/p7Xkia-9G

Week  four of the Active Future Programme has just passed which marked the halfway point of the programme. The past four weeks have gone so quickly but it is great to see the relationships grow stronger and stronger between the participants, the Sports Science Students & the leaders. Next week the participants are on their mid-term break from school so we will be using this as some downtime and to review what elements of the programme can be improved.  Keep scrolling to see videos, pictures and descriptions of what we covered in week 4!

Physical Health Input

This week the Sports Science students, very comprehensively, covered the impacts of drug and alcohol misuse on physical health. The students informed the participants on the recommended maximum amount of alcohol consumption per week, what constitutes drug misuse, and how both alcohol and drugs can be extremely damaging to your physical health. Did you know that the maximum recommended alcohol intake per week  for males  is 17 units (8 pints) and females is 11 units (5 pints) per week? One is considered to be binge drinking when an individual consumes 3 pints of alcohol in one sitting! Unfortunately, that is a big problem here in Ireland with 75% of all alcohol consumed as part of a binge-drinking session. The participants were quite shocked with what constituted binge-drinking which led to an interesting discussion around safe alcohol use.

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Physical Activity Input

We switched things up this week and gave the Sports Science students a break from leading the physical activity session. This week we got a local zumba instructor to deliver the class. At first, many of the guys were hesitant  to become involved but by the end of it they were practically leading the class!  For those of you who don’t know, zumba is a really fun dance class, which is done to the beat of energetic music (usually Pitbull!) and originated from Colombia. See the video below to see some of the slick dance moves on show.

Mental Health Input

As always, the wonderful Michael Byrne from the Tullow School Completion Programme delivered an excellent session on the mental impacts of drug and alcohol misuse. Michael linked it back to what we had learned so far about the four types of behaviors and how to control them. He explained that people often smoke or take drugs to alleviate stress or  in some cases to numb emotional pain. He explained that addiction is when a person THINKS they have lost control – the key word here is think. He explained that this is just a thought, and the first steps to recovery is realizing that you have control over these thoughts. He explained that physical craving only last approximately 15 minutes (depending on the substance) and after that it is your thoughts that are driving the cravings. To challenge addicting behavior we need to; (1) look at why we want these substances or what are they replacing in our lives, (2) Recognize that we have control over these cravings and (3) begin to change our behavior towards these cravings. Exercise was mentioned by the participants  as a good alternative to smoking with regard to alleviating stress.

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As I said above next week the participants will be on their mid-term break from school so they won’t be on campus.  However, we will be using this week as a means to review how the programme has run so far and what elements we can improve. Of course we believe in a bottoms-up approach so the participants and the students  will have the final say in any changes made to the 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 3 – Resistance Training, Hydration & Thought Awareness.

You can find an overview of the project here http://wp.me/p7Xkia-4

You can find the blog relating to week 2 here http://wp.me/p7Xkia-7i

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

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Youth on the MOVE

Active Future Programme – Week 2 – HIIT, Portion Sizes and Relaxation.

You can find an overview of the project here http://wp.me/p7Xkia-4

You can find last week’s blog post here http://wp.me/p7Xkia-4O.

With week 1 off to a flying start I was excited to hear how week 2 went down with the adolescents of Tullow Secondary School. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to week 2 as I was attending a conference, but I was confident it would run just as smoothly when left in the capable hands of our team at I.T. Carlow. It is really encouraging to know that a programme can run smoothly when a member of a team is missing and I can’t commend enough the great work of Michael Byrne (Tullow School Completion Programme) Danni Callanan (Sports Science Intern) Liam Kelly (Master Student), Dr Paula Fitzgerald (Sports Science Lecturer),  and the Sports Science students. There were 5 new participants this week bringing the total number of active participants up to 20. The feedback I received on week 2 was really positive with particular praise for the physical health input on portion sizes delivered by the Sports Science students. Here is what we covered this week!

Physical Health Input

An excellent physical health input was delivered by the Sports Science students on portion sizes.The students informed the participants on the appropriate portion sizes for boys and girls, and for varying levels of physical activity. The students then tested the knowledge of the participants on portion sizes with in some really innovative ways. The participants had to match according to size,  portion sizes of various macro nutrients  with common household items. Did you know a portion size of pasta roughly equates to a baseball? Or a baked potato should be the equivalent of a computer mouse?

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Participants measuring out cereal portion sizes

Physical Activity Input

The focus of this week’s physical activity session was high intensity interval training or as most know it HIIT. The Sports Science students put the participants through their paces with a fun and engaging session using various exercises such as ball slams, battle ropes, and resisted sprints to keep it interesting. HIIT training involves a period of intense cardiovascular exercise followed by a short bout of rest in this case – 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest. The students then implemented a cool down with a focus on relaxation through stretching which led nicely into the mental health input.

Mental Health Input

As always Michael Byrne of the Tullow School Completion Programme delivered an excellent and interesting mental health input, this time on relaxation. The participants listed out relaxation techniques with walking, meditating, music, reading, and sleeping commonly cited.  Michael went on to describe how relaxation can be passive and active, with the potential benefits including clearing of the mind, helping with injury prevention in sports, slowing down of heart rate, and helping with stress levels. Michael informed that relaxation techniques work best when in ‘the flow’ – when an individual is in the moment where nothing else matters. He guided the participants through a ‘Body Scan Technique’wherein individuals focus their attention on different parts of their body from the feet upwards which created a sense of calm whilst controlling the breathing.

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Students relaxing through stretching.

Drop by this blog next week to see how week 3 went with our participants!

The Active Future Programme is an 8 week programme based in Ireland aiming to promote physical activity and further education amongst adolscents and 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