Transition Year Students in Coláiste Mhuire Johnstown recently led the way as the first secondary school in the county to get involved in the review of the Kilkenny County Development Plan.
The students threw themselves with great energy into learning about and researching walking and cycling trails in Kilkenny, in a project organised over several weeks by Kilkenny County Council in conjunction with Transition Year Coordinator Patricia Costello and teacher Jason Dermody.
Kilkenny Recreation and Sport Partnership’s Caitriona Corr got the students out and about to map local walking-routes, and highlighted the importance of being active. Trail Kilkenny’s Eoin Hogan also came on board to give a talk about the various types of trails in Kilkenny, including a new proposal for a ghost trail.
The students submitted their findings in a report and a lively and informative presentation last Tuesday to elected members and senior planning staff of Kilkenny County Council, peers and staff.
“The school was very honoured to be the first secondary school in the county to be involved in the council’s public consultation process,” said Transition Year coordinator Patricia Costello.
“It afforded the students a great insight into the workings of the planning process and were grateful to the have opportunity to work with the Planning Section on such a worthwhile project, which was thoroughly enjoyed by the students.”
The students were awarded certificates by Kilkenny County Council in recognition of their great work and valuable input into the review of the County Development Plan. Local area councillor Mary Hilda Cavanagh, who is chairperson of the board of management of Coláiste Mhuire, and the other north Kilkenny councillors lent their support to the project and were impressed with the extent of the students’ work and presentation.
“I was very proud of the students for being involved in the public consultation process,” said Cllr Cavanagh.
“There were some great ideas that were very practical and very doable. It was a marvellous idea to do it, and it would be great to see it rolled out in other schools also.”
Cllr Maurice Shortall also said that the pilot project was a huge success.
“It’s a vindication of the advantages of Transition Year in second level education – and how encouraging to witness here this morning for ourselves how well each student has embraced the concept of Kilkenny County Development Plan,” he told the students.
“I have been so impressed by the presentation that I want to formally invite you to the next meeting of the Strategic Policy Committee on Forward Planning and Development Policy in County Hall, Kilkenny.”
The Draft Kilkenny County and City Development Plans 2014-2020 will go on public display for comments next summer.
“It was great to see the students’ enthusiast response to the project and to hear their definite views that public consultation is very important to enable the people of Kilkenny to have their say in how the local area and the county is developed” said Claire Kelly of the forward planning team at Kilkenny County Council.