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Kilkenny Comhairle na nÓg

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Current topic

The topic for discussion at Kilkenny Comhairle na nÓg’s AGM in October 2016 was Youth Mental Health. The young people present put forward a number of suggestions to address the topic locally. Since then the Comhairle members have assessed the proposed actions and selected those most suitable for them to work on. The actions selected for 2017 are:

  • To publish a short booklet to educate families of the challenges of mental health for adolescents in Kilkenny. The Comhairle will survey young people across the county and use this information in their booklet. The intention is that families will know what is relevant to young people in Kilkenny in 2017.
  • To influence schools to provide more PE classes. As we all know, good physical health is known to have a positive impact on our mental health. The Comhairle will survey young people across the county about the need for this and then present the findings to school principals and boards of management.
  • In other work the Comhairle will support Kilkenny Recreation and Sports Partnership to shape consultations around the development of a youth space, incorporating a skate park, in the Abbey Quarter in Kilkenny City. They will also engage with the Forward Planning Department of Kilkenny County Council to agree a mechanism of how young people should be consulted and engaged in the development of Local Area Plans.

In 2015-16, Kilkenny Comhairle na nÓg had been working on a DVD which highlights the challenges in dealing with underage drinking and smoking. In the DVD, the group aimed to capture public attitudes and opinions on the issue. They have included expert analysis and advice from drugs and alcohol experts from the HSE (Health Service Executive), as well as interviews with members of an Garda Síochána in relation to the application of the law in relation to this. The DVD was officially launched at Kilkenny Comhairle’s AGM in October 2016.

News: 

Kilkenny Comhairle na nÓg lead the way in promoting positive Mental Health

Kilkenny Comhairle na nÓg launched the ‘Kilkenny Comhairle na nÓg Mental Health School Flag Project – An Evaluation’ on Monday October 3rd 2016 in the Town Hall, High Street, Kilkenny. Dr. Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children officially launched the report here in Kilkenny. Both An Cathaoirleach, Cllr. Matt Doran, and Mayor, Cllr. Patrick O’Neill both officiated at the event.

The Mental Health School Flag Project, created by Kilkenny Comhairle na nÓg, is a framework for schools to ensure that mental health and mental health awareness is an integral part of the school environment. The initiative was identified by young people at the Kilkenny Comhairle na nÓg AGM in October 2012 following which its development has formed a substantial part of their annual work plan each year since then. The project has been developed by a collaborative process of engagement led by subsequent Kilkenny Comhairlí with young people, mental health professionals, Kilkenny Comhairle na nÓg Steering Committee and Lifeline Mental Health Youth Sub-Group. The framework was piloted in three post primary schools between January and June of 2015 following which St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Dublin commissioned an independent evaluation of the pilot. The launch was an opportunity to celebrate the work of the young people in progressing this action and to thank and acknowledge all those local groups, organisations and schools who helped bring the project to this stage.

On Tuesday October 4th there was a meeting in St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services in Dublin whereby Kilkenny Comhairle na nÓg, with the backing and support of St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services, were afforded the opportunity to formally hand over the research report to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA).

Below you will find links to a summary report and the full report.

summary-report-mhsf-project-kilkenny

kilkenny-comhairle-mh-full-report-sept-2016

 

Work already completed

Kilkenny Comhairle na nÓg were working on a new topic in 2015: the problem of under-age drinking and smoking. We worked closely with the Community Gardai on this topic, highlighting difficulties caused by parental consent, and the buying and selling of alcohol and cigarettes to young people. We have met members of Community Gardaí, to get a better picture of the current trends in County Kilkenny, and are examining how to target health matters, dangers, safety and responsibility for young users.  We have an invitation pending with the Garda superintendent for our district on this topic.

Our other project was based on bullying and cyber bullying, again looking at effective ways to deal with it and toolkits that can be used by young people experiencing some form of bullying. We are working with the Carlow/ Kilkenny Childcare Committee and TUSLA to come up with a framework of guidelines to tackle bullying in all places working with or accessed by young people in the county. We hope to create a short film/DVD on bullying, focusing on safety and legislation in relation to cyber-bullying and in terms of prosecuting/ criminalizing it.We hope to work with the Children and Young People’s Services Committee  to create framework guidelines on cyber-bullying.

We will also continue to develop our work on the Mental Health Flag programme for Schools and hope to roll it out in a greater number of schools this year.

Daἰl visit 2015, on invitation from John Paul Phelan, TD
In February 2015, 18 Comhairle members visited the Daἰl on the invitation from John Paul Phelan, TD. He was happy to answer answering from the Comhairle in the Dáἰl press room. It was an amazing experience for all in attendance and we thank him for his time and knowledge about the function of the Dáἰl and the Seanad. He also talked about the history of Leinster house and the adoption of the Irish constitution.

Engaging with decision makers, 2015
Kilkenny County Council is currently engaged in a process of drawing up a Master Plan for the long-term redevelopment of the Smithwick’s Brewery lands in Kilkenny city centre. As part of this process,  Kilkenny Comhairle na nὁg, in collaboration with the Kilkenny County Council’s planning department, organised a consultation day for young people with regards to the development at Brewery site on February 19th. Forty two young people from across the county attended the meeting and contributed their ideas, concerns and aspirations. One suggestion was the development of a skate park, which the Comhairle has been campaigning for in Kilkenny for the past three years. This consultation is on-going.

Since November 2012, Kilkenny Comhairle na nÓg has been working on developing a Mental Health Flag programme for schools and other places that work with young people. This was identified as a priority project on our Action Plans for 2013, and will be further developed in 2014/15. Research, presentations and consultations on this programme have been completed to date. The Mental Health Schools Flag programme has been written up and will be piloted in two schools in Kilkenny in September 2014. A worker dedicated to oversee the pilot programmes and to further develop an age/language appropriate primary school framework document. In January of 2015, the Comhairle na nog accompanied by the steering committee meet with senior management of St Patrick Mental Health services Hospital, to present the Mental Health Schools Flag framework document. St Patrick are eager to be associated and are interested in being in involved in some huge capacity to further develop the project in 2015 and beyond.

In 2013 we completed work on our campaign for the development of a skate-park facility for young people in the county. Surveys for the Skate-Park have been finalised and the report presented to Kilkenny Borough Council.

Dog Fouling Campaign:

With the support of the County Council’s environmental section and Kilkenny Castle (OPW), we recently held a three hour campaign to highlight the health dangers associated with dog foul and issued a gentle reminder to pet owners to clean after their dogs. The event was held in the Parade Square and Castle grounds in the middle of the city. There was an exceptional public support, as well as a great appreciation for Comhairle na nÓg for highlighting this issue. Green Dog Walkers pledge (a non-confrontational, friendly way to change attitudes about dog fouling in the South East area) pamphlets were given out to members of the public, encouraging them to sign up and take the pledge.

The group also brought an awareness to the members of the public about the contents of the Litter Pollutions Acts of 1997-2003, in particular the fines associated with it. And also the statistic that almost 35.5% of Irish households have a dog.

An Anti-bullying and Cyber-bullying Campaign was held in December 2013 on the streets of Kilkenny.  It proved a great success with 266 questionnaires filled on the day by the general public.  School were targeted and results will feed into the mental health project and will be presented at the 2014 AGM and to Mental Health stakeholders in Kilkenny.

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