On Friday 23rd September, the now annual Cycle Against Suicide Ambassador School Awards ceremony was held at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham. These awards recognised the immense efforts of 83 schools around the island of Ireland who have completed the Ambassador School Programme, and become actively involved in mental health promotion. The Ambassador School Programme, one aspect of a wide range of Cycle Against Suicide initiatives, is school-led, and involves the completion of “Five Gears” over the course of a year, all of which are aimed at raising awareness of the message that “It’s OK not to feel OK; and it’s absolutely OK to ask for help”.
At the special reception held at The Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, St. Leo’s Carlow was once again awarded the prestigious status of Ambassador School for the third time, one of only 19 schools in the country have achieved this status, in recognition of its exceptional commitment to the promotion of positive mental health.
St. Leo’s College was represented at the event by Ms Vivienne O’Neill, Link Teacher, and students Kate Coleman and Dayna Cullen, who understandably are very proud of their achievements. “The Ambassador School Awards ceremony was a great day. It’s wonderful to attend such a positive event, and have the efforts of the students recognised. Our participation in the Ambassador School Programme has had an enormously positive impact on our school community, fostered a school-wide approach to the promotion of positive mental health, and provided incredible opportunities for student leadership”, said Ms O’Neill speaking at the event. Representatives from the main education bodies and trusts, the Institute of Guidance Counsellors and the Ombudsman for Children, Niall Muldoon, all attended to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the schools involved.
The Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton TD, congratulated the schools which completed the Ambassador School Programme. The Minister said: "It is fantastic to see that 83 schools around the island of Ireland have completed the Ambassador School Programme, and become actively involved in mental health promotion. This is a hugely important issue that affects so many families. I strongly support the promotion of positive mental health awareness in both primary and post-primary schools”.
Founder of Cycle Against Suicide, Jim Breen, who has recently been appointed to Minister Helen McEntee’s new Taskforce on Youth Mental Health said, “On behalf of Cycle Against Suicide I’d like to thank each of the 83 Ambassador Schools for their extraordinary commitment to breaking the cycle of suicide on the island of Ireland. Each of them has gone the extra mile to raise awareness of our message, empowering themselves and others to build resilience, and seek help when necessary. The efforts of these school communities, teachers, students and parents, is changing the mind-set, behaviour and culture of an entire generation.”