Almost 600 Transition Year students from 30 schools from around Cork county and city came together this week for the first-ever ‘Teen Talk’ health and wellbeing conference.
Organised by Cork County Council, through their Local Community Development Committees (LCDCs), the event took place at the Radisson Blu hotel Little Ireland.
MC for the event was former Rose of Tralee, Maria Walsh, who introduced the line of up speakers including Blizzards frontman and mental health advocate, Niall ‘Bressie’ Breslin, who shared his personal story of dealing with panic attacks and depression, and learning to deal with these.
Dr Pixie McKenna of Embarrassing Bodies gave students a straight-talking presentation on what they should concern themselves with in terms of general health; and Cork-born Olympic race walker and star of RTÉ’s ‘Dancing with the Stars’, Rob Heffernan, who spoke about the benefits of a living a healthy lifestyle.
Maria shared her own personal experiences of growing up and coming out as gay.
Supporting the event through Cork County Council’s three LCDCs was Healthy Ireland, a Government-led initiative funded under the Department of Health and overseen by POBAL who is responsible for managing the programme on behalf of the Government. The aim is to create an Irish society where everyone can enjoy physical and mental health, and where wellbeing is valued and supported at every level of society.
Cllr. Declan Hurley, Mayor of Cork County opened the event by saying, "Cork County Council has a big role to play in protecting the health and wellbeing of Cork, in particular through our LCDCs. We are pleased to work with Healthy Ireland to teach people how to look after themselves better by listening and respecting their own minds and bodies. I would encourage you to start everyday with one positive thought – remember, every day is a new beginning, so take a deep breath and embrace the opportunity to start fresh, and enjoy life!”
Minister Jim Daly, Minister for Mental Health & Older People also addressed students and teachers at the event, urging them to look out for each other.
"I urge each and every one of you to look after yourselves, but also each other. Small steps now could make a big difference to someone, so make the effort to listen to each other, watch out for each other, and make time for each other.”
All students who attended the half day ‘Teen Talk’ event had the opportunity to learn more about the supports available to them at a number of information stands; and everyone was given a Green Ribbon to wear in support of ‘See Change’, a month-long campaign being run by the national Mental Health Stigma Reduction Partnership, to encourage people in Ireland to end mental health stigma this May.