Mind matters: Limerick hurling stars tells kids to 'get out and get active'

Jess Casey


Jess Casey

Na Piarsaigh hurler Kevin Downes with Dara Kirwin, Colin McNamara, Liam Afolabi and Kenneth Duggan

Na Piarsaigh hurler Kevin Downes with Dara Kirwin, Colin McNamara, Liam Afolabi and Kenneth Duggan

“GET off the video games, and get out onto the field.” So comes the advice to the pupils of Caherdavin Boys National School from two Limerick senior hurlers.

Former pupils and Na Piarsaigh men Shane Dowling and Kevin Downes visited their old primary school to celebrate the achievements of pupils and staff this year, as the school was presented with the ISPCC Anti-bullying Flag.

For promoting a culture of positive mental health among students this year, the school has received the ISPCC Anti-bullying Flag, the Kindness Flag, the Amber Flag, the Mental Health Awareness Flag and the Active Flag.

“Congratulations to the students and teachers on such fantastic achievements,” Dowling told pupils. “Keep the work going.”

“I suppose it's like sports,” Downes added. “You don’t get these things unless you put a lot of work into it.”

Both Dowling and Downes believe that positive mental health starts with physical activity, they told the boys.

“Some people could leave school on a Friday and they won’t see daylight again until they come to school again on Monday morning because they’ll stay inside playing video games,” Dowling said.

“If you bury yourself in headphones when you go home from school until you go to bed, which is happening quite a lot, personally I believe that has a lot to do with causing mental health problems.

“If it's only for this summer alone, get off the video games and get out onto the field. Just try and do as many summer camps that you can because believe me that's what will keep the head intact.”

Downes also encouraged the young students to get out and get active.

“Whatever you’re interested in, whether it’s hurling, football, golf, whatever it might be; just get out and get active. It's the best thing ye can do.

"In the summer, with the good weather ye should be getting outside soon as ye go home and get your homework done. Just go straight out the door, get out and get active.”

Playing in a team can help promote positive mental health, he added.

“Myself and Shane lost the All-Ireland Club title which obviously was a very sad time for us. But we had the team around us, we had the players and we were able to chat about things, about how we were feeling and that’s a great way to get around things and you can come around things very quickly.”

“When you are involved in a team, involved in a sport, involved in an activity, you’ve people to talk to all the time. With any team you have to work together, it's very, very positive for mental health.”

As the ISPCC Anti-bullying Flag was unveiled, students celebrated in the school hall with a ceremony full of song and laughter.

Also in attendance was former Minister for Education and Limerick City TD Jan O’Sullivan.

“I’m just so impressed. A fantastic school, with all the different things that you are doing. It's so important to be happy in school,” she told pupils.

“And having all these different things going on really helps make young fellows happy in school,” she added. “This is such an achievement for the school,” teacher Sinead Dore said.

“It means everybody will know what kind boys we have here, trying their best to keep the school a bully-free zone.”

“We’re very proud of them, it's a fantastic achievement,” principal Patrick Millane said.