Thousands of students graduate and continue their education every year. Moving often ushers in not just a change of scenery but also a new set of liberties, temptations, and challenges. St Paul’s High School GCSE student Erin McCullough of Bessbrook, County Armagh, hopes to go into medicine or law.
She’s prepared for a long journey. The upcoming exams still cause her anxiety, she said, even though they are still five months away. It’s comforting to know that I’m not alone in my feelings and that help is available to me if I reach out for it.
The new Survival Toolkit was unveiled at the Southern Regional College (SRC) in Newry, which provides the kind of assistance she is referring to. It helps young people navigate the personal, academic, and financial challenges of continuing their education and finding the resources they need to succeed.
The process of recovering from failure
Blue Rock Search Oisn McConville, a former All-Ireland winning GAA footballer who has been candid about the impact problem gambling had on his youth, launched the initiative.
He said that today’s youth face both familiar and novel difficulties. “Most of what they hear is about school, tests, grades, and options for further study,” he said. The decisions you make right now aren’t going to have a lasting impact on the rest of your life. Many decisions I made in the past that turned out badly are ones I would not repeat if given the chance.
“It’s helping people realise that mistakes are inevitable, but that they can learn from them and move on,” said one observer. Because of the influence of social media, many young people now believe that the consequences of their actions will follow them for the rest of their lives.
Mr. McConville is of the opinion that this must alter. “If you make one mistake, it will stay with you for the rest of your life,” he said, referring to the freedom to err. Is there any way to stop that from happening? Precautionary education and public discussion of potential hazards and how to avoid them are essential.
That’s the sort of thing that interests parents. For Mr. McConville, “kids need to hear that as well,” especially “if we’re talking about severe things like addictions, a kid who is taking drugs, gambling, or drinking to excess.”
Many people don’t realise the severity of their situation until it’s too late, so it’s important for them to be aware of the warning signs. St. Mark’s High School students Ronan Downey and Joe McLoughlin, both in their final year, sat in on the launch. They are both thinking ahead to the future.
Ronan and Joe
Joe McLoughlin (left) and Ronan Downey (right) are shown in this image making plans for their futures.
As for me, I plan on attending either college or the SRC to continue my education, Ronan said. “Today revealed that there is much more to consider — such as financial situations and mental health — and that we must take everything into account to guarantee everything is alright.”
Joe thinks it helps to be reminded that adversity can be overcome. He eventually settled on the idea of pursuing a degree in special needs at college, though he was still unsure. This was really helpful: “Oisn was very reassuring that in the end we’ll all find our own path and we’ll be alright; that there is no point in worrying and that if you need help to speak out.”