Creating a Caring School Community at Kilkenny CBS

Creating a Caring School Community at Kilkenny CBS

An important element of the CBS Kilkenny Transition Year Programme is predicated on the concept of raising social awareness among our young students, thereby opening their minds to other people and the means by which they live, cognisant of the abiding principles and the ethos of an Edmund Rice School.

The students exemplify a caring school community, promoting partnership by assisting the wider community in our own locality, across Ireland and abroad.

The CBS Kilkenny TY Community Care and Social Studies Module grew from a small acorn following a phone call from Damien Casey, former Principal of the Mother of Fair Love School, to Gerard Morrissey the TY Coordinator in CBS Kilkenny urgently requesting assistance from a couple of able bodied students to act as referees for their soccer blitzes.

Interaction with several of the local primary schools, including CBS Primary and St. Patrick’s De La Salle, followed shortly thereafter. Our students were soon assisting both inside the classrooms and, in the case of the Presentation Primary School, coaching the girls in the skills of camogie, under the guidance of Dicksboro GAA club.

In 2009, the programme was put on a solid footing when CBS Kilkenny and St. Columba’s Hospital collaborated on the development of a more formal Community Care and Social Studies Module. This partnership became a precursor for students’ subsequent participation with numerous other HSE and voluntary residential and day care services within Kilkenny. In Gerard Morrissey’s opinion; “Both students and the care agencies benefit from much-welcomed intergenerational engagement and the implicit experiential learning involved.”

The altruistic nature of the students is recognised annually at the CBS Kilkenny Transition Year Award Ceremony with an award in Community Care and Social Studies often presented by an invited CEO or senior executive of one of the organisations.

St. Columba’s Hospital, Care of the Older Person, Thomastown

St. Columba’s Hospital provides long stay care, rehabilitation, respite and day care services for older people in Kilkenny City and county. CBS Kilkenny TY students carry out their placement under the direction of the Activities and Day Care Team.

The students assist with tidying up after lunch, preparing and organising Bingo, playing cards with some of the wily card sharks and engaging in conversation with residents in the Day Care Centre. They also participate in the many activities on the scheduled programme which is underway for long stay residents.

In addition, the boys helped set up a new music system in the Day Care Centre and organised sing-a-longs. The TY Choir and musicians also visit the hospital to perform a concert for residents in the weeks approaching Christmas.

The Community Care module allows young people to come into this setting and see how holistic care is important in serving the needs of older people.

“It gives a positive refreshing uplift to older people to talk to the students, and the shared experiences are positive for both groups. The students have fully embraced their placement, demonstrating leadership potential and displaying good manners and a caring approach to our residents. They take instruction and guidance in a positive way and have made a valuable contribution to the care in St. Columba’s Hospital during their placement.” Helena Hull, Clinical Nurse Manager & Clinical Lead for Activities Programme.

CBS Christian Brother Primary School, Kilkenny

Transition Year students assist the teachers with classroom and P.E. activities on Thursday afternoons, helping out in the classroom with reading and writing as well as in the gym hall or playing pitch with the setting up and monitoring of P.E. classes.

Teachers believe that the Community Care and Social Studies Module is a meaningful and enriching experience and it encourages Transition Year students to give of their time helping to develop literacy and numeracy skills in younger children. The students are “always delighted to have the older boys working with them, and the teachers are very impressed with the punctuality, reliability and helpful approach of the TY students”, Shane Prendergast, Teacher.

S.O.S. Kilkenny Ltd

S.O.S. Kilkenny provides a service for adults with an intellectual disability encompassing both day services and residential services.

Students are involved in observing, interacting and participating in the day services, specifically the radio station which broadcasts to the S.O.S. Community on the Callan Road. They prepare a show for thirty minutes which includes music and speech content.

Students observe how this service operates, learn to support individuals within the service and gain an insight into technological aspects of the media. For S.O.S Kilkenny, the programme provides meaningful opportunities to engage with individuals and groups outside of their own organisation.

“The students interact very well. Within the service they are approachable, helpful and overall good sport”, Pat Ryan, Manager S.O.S. Kilkenny.

St. Patrick’s School, Kilkenny

St. Patrick’s school is a special school for pupils aged from 4 - 18 year olds. All students have a cognitive disability within the moderate to severe range. Founded in September 1966 by The Religious Sisters of Charity, this year the school celebrates its 50th birthday. The Transition Year students from CBS join different classes to promote social inclusion and to help teach important life skills. The CBS students engage with pupils in a social setting in the school shop and help them to purchase items and to effectively manage a financial transaction.

“The benefits are for both the CBS student and the pupils in our school, learning how to interact together. This programme has been successfully running for eight years and continues to go from strength to strength”.

Liz Fitzgerald, Deputy Principal.

Enable Ireland, Kilkenny Children’s Services

Enable Ireland was established in Kilkenny in 1980 as a support group for parents of children with cerebral palsy. The branch identified the need for the establishment of a centre-based service, providing comprehensive day services for children with cerebral palsy and other identified developmental delay.

The CBS Kilkenny TY Students attend each Thursday afternoon to assist with the activities scheduled for that day. The students are involved in fundraising in the city centre; they occasionally assist in the preschool classroom, and they help the maintenance staff in the facility.

“It is very valuable to us having young people involved in our service. Their contribution greatly assists daily activities. Their youthful enthusiasm helps to create a warm atmosphere in the building. The CBS TY Community Care & Social Studies Module helps care organisations to have a link with communities, thereby increasing disability awareness and promoting inclusion.

Their questions and interest help us to increase disability awareness in the city and help promote best practice, continuous learning and a culture of openness and acceptance. For children who access our services, it helps to normalise disability and ensure that the organisation’s ethos is current. For the Transition Year student, the placement gives them a sense of the world outside themselves and an appreciation of the difficulties that life can bring”, Paula Rudkins, Services Manager, O’Neill Centre, Kilkenny.

The TY Community Care and Social Studies Module is an integral part of the Transition Year programme in CBS Kilkenny, and it reflects in a real and meaningful way the ethos and vision of Blessed Edmund Rice.

Tom Clarke, CBS Principal, recognises “the enthusiasm and generosity of spirit that CBS students bring to this programme. In return substantial benefits accrue to our students as a result of these enriching experiences in many community settings. This programme is a very important aspect of the tradition of partnership that CBS Kilkenny has fostered for more than 150 years”.