A student campaign called ‘Failure Week’, run by NUI Galway Students’ Union Vice President for Education Phelim Kelly, won an award at the Student Achievement Awards Ireland (SAAI) run by the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) last week.
These were the third annual Student Achievement Awards, and saw student leaders and representatives gather at Dublin Castle to mark the contribution made to student life by individuals, clubs and societies, and to reflect on campaigns and initiatives taken on campuses across the island of Ireland.
Mr Kelly, who is the current Vice President for Education at NUI Galway SU, received the Best Education Campaign Award at the event.
The idea for the Failure Week campaign, according to Mr Kelly, came from a large amount of case work which primarily dealt with students who failed exams after the summer and autumn exams.
“The stress levels were stretched to the forefront of every student I saw. They genuinely believed that they were the only ones who failed and felt extremely demoralised in the process,” Mr Kelly explained.
The Failure Week campaign was aimed at first and second year students to let them know that it is quite normal to fail an exam or not do as well as they had hoped, and to take something useful from the experience.
“I went into lectures for quick presentations on what to do if you fail an exam, be it that the paper didn’t go your way, or there was something going on at the time. It was basically to inform as many students as possible what to do in these situations and that they were not alone in the process,” said Mr Kelly.
During the year, Mr Kelly also ran a number of workshops, which dealt with failure and future performance, mind-mapping and procrastination.
The Failure and Future Performance workshop, run by the student counselling service, aimed to get students out of the demoralised stage, to help them to get back on track and to encourage them to take something positive from their failure. Students were given tips and advice of all sorts from effective breathing techniques to getting rid of Netflix at exam time.
“Mind-mapping is a study technique clinically proven to improve the way in which you retain information and to enhance your grades. Students participated in an active workshop to learn this technique and to help them study for the summer exams,” said Mr Kelly, speaking about his mind-mapping workshop, which was given by Dr Dermott Burns in the NUI Galway English Department.
Procrastination is an issue that has been experienced by a large percentage of the student population and with his procrastination workshops, Mr Kelly aimed to get students out of the “due tomorrow, do tomorrow” state of mind, helping them to set short-term goals or targets to get them on a study schedule.
“Students found this of great benefit. The Students’ Union collaborated with the Academic Writing Centre in the library to help students write essays. One of the exercises involved writing everything down and to keep writing until all the information was on paper,” said Mr Kelly.
But despite his hard work, Mr Kelly has yet to see the full results of this campaign. In the past, the Students’ Union ran a number of exam stress campaigns before the exams, but the Failure Week campaign is specifically designed to help students who “fell through the cracks”, he said.
“One of the most important aspects of the campaign addressed mental health issues, which can arise out of the exam period. If anything, it helped to normalise the notion that sometimes it is okay to not be okay and that nobody is having an easy time through college, but most importantly, they know that they are not alone in this struggle.”
This campaign, according to Mr Kelly, was part of a larger campaign which aims to combat the high level of student drop-outs. “Student retention is to the forefront of any Students’ Union and this is one way in which we can show both staff and students that ‘Every Student Matters’.”
The Student Achievement Awards, which were presented by broadcaster Tara Flynn, saw 20 awards made to individuals, Students’ Unions and clubs and societies from across the country.
“I just feel absolutely chuffed to be recognised on a national basis for the work I’ve put into the Students’ Union this year in my term as Education Officer. I never thought for a second I would actually get the award, I just thought I would give it a go and see what happens,” said Mr Kelly.
West has lower cancer survival rates than rest
Significant state investment is required to address ‘shocking’ inequalities that leave cancer patients in the West at greater risk of succumbing to the disease.
A meeting of Regional Health Forum West heard that survival rates for breast, lung and colorectal cancers than the national average, and with the most deprived quintile of the population, the West’s residents faced poorer outcomes from a cancer diagnosis.
For breast cancer patients, the five-year survival rate was 80% in the West versus 85% nationally; for lung cancer patients it was 16.7% in the west against a 19.5% national survival rate; and in the West’s colorectal cancer patients, there was a 62.6% survival rate where the national average was 63.1%.
These startling statistics were provided in answer to a question from Ballinasloe-based Cllr Evelyn Parsons (Ind) who said it was yet another reminder that cancer treatment infrastructure in the West was in dire need of improvement.
“The situation is pretty stark. In the Western Regional Health Forum area, we have the highest incidence of deprivation and the highest health inequalities because of that – we have the highest incidences of cancer nationally because of that,” said Cllr Parsons, who is also a general practitioner.
In details provided by CEO of Saolta Health Care Group, which operates Galway’s hospitals, it was stated that a number of factors were impacting on patient outcomes.
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Marathon Man plans to call a halt – but not before he hits 160 races
On the eve of completing his 150th marathon, an odyssey that has taken him across 53 countries, Loughrea’s Marathon Man has announced that he is planning to hang up his running shoes.
But not before Jarlath Fitzgerald completes another ten races, making it 160 marathons on the occasion of his 60th birthday.
“I want to draw the line in 2026. I turn 57 in October and when I reach 60 it’s the finishing line. The longer races are taking it out of me. I did 20 miles there two weeks ago and didn’t feel good. It’s getting harder,” he reveals.
“I’ve arthritis in both hips and there’s wear and tear in the knees.”
We speak as he is about to head out for a run before his shift in Supervalu Loughrea. Despite his physical complaints, he still clocks up 30 miles every second week and generally runs four days a week.
Jarlath receives injections to his left hip to keep the pain at bay while running on the road.
To give his joints a break, during the winter he runs cross country and often does a five-mile trek around Kylebrack Wood.
He is planning on running his 150th marathon in Cork on June 4, where a group of 20 made up of work colleagues, friends and running mates from Loughrea Athletics Club will join him.
Some are doing the 10k, others are doing the half marathon, but all will be there on the finishing line to cheer him on in the phenomenal achievement.
Galway ‘masterplan’ needed to tackle housing and transport crises
From the Galway City Tribune – An impassioned plea for a ‘masterplan’ that would guide Galway City into the future has been made in the Dáil. Galway West TD Catherine Connolly stated this week that there needed to be an all-inclusive approach with “vision and leadership” in order to build a sustainable city.
Deputy Connolly spoke at length at the crisis surrounding traffic and housing in Galway city and said that not all of the blame could be laid at the door of the local authority.
She said that her preference would be the provision of light rail as the main form of public transport, but that this would have to be driven by the government.
“I sat on the local council for 17 years and despaired at all of the solutions going down one road, metaphorically and literally. In 2005 we put Park & Ride into the development plan, but that has not been rolled out. A 2016 transport strategy was outdated at the time and still has not been updated.
“Due to the housing crisis in the city, a task force was set up in 2019. Not a single report or analysis has been published on the cause of the crisis,” added Deputy Connolly.
She then referred to a report from the Land Development Agency (LDA) that identified lands suitable for the provision of housing. But she said that two-thirds of these had significant problems and a large portion was in Merlin Park University Hospital which, she said, would never have housing built on it.
In response, Minister Simon Harris spoke of the continuing job investment in the city and also in higher education, which is his portfolio.
But turning his attention to traffic congestion, he accepted that there were “real issues” when it came to transport, mobility and accessibility around Galway.
“We share the view that we need a Park & Ride facility and I understand there are also Bus Connects plans.
“I also suggest that the City Council reflect on her comments. I am proud to be in a Government that is providing unparalleled levels of investment to local authorities and unparalleled opportunities for local authorities to draw down,” he said.
Then Minister Harris referred to the controversial Galway City Outer Ring Road which he said was “struck down by An Bord Pleanála”, despite a lot of energy having been put into that project.
However, Deputy Connolly picked up on this and pointed out that An Bord Pleanála did not say ‘No’ to the ring road.
“The High Court said ‘No’ to the ring road because An Bord Pleanála acknowledged it failed utterly to consider climate change and our climate change obligations.
“That tells us something about An Bord Pleanála and the management that submitted such a plan.”
In the end, Minister Harris agreed that there needed to be a masterplan for Galway City.
“I suggest it is for the local authority to come up with a vision and then work with the Government to try to fund and implement that.”