A group of South Tipperary teenagers highlighted their work in raising awareness of mental health issues over the past year at a national youth conference in Dublin last weekend.
The representatives from the newly elected South Tipperary Comhairle na nÓg (youth council) were among 500 teenagers from all over the country who took part in the first ever Comhairle na nÓg National Showcase hosted by Children and Youth Affairs Minister Frances Fitzgerald. South Tipperary Comhairle na nOg is one of 34 councils in the country for young people aged between 12 and 18 and around eight of its members were represented at the showcase conference visited by Taoiseach Enda Kenny. The showcase took place just a few weeks after 100 young people representing second level schools and youth organisations elected the South riding’s new Comhairle na nÓg at its AGM at Moyle Rovers GAA Club centre near Clonmel.
Cashel Community School student Declan Burgess from The Rock, Cashel was elected Comhairle Chairman at the agm.
Declan, aged 17, said his goal over the next year will be to continue the great work Comhairle has done in highlighting issues affecting young people. Over the past year, the Comhairle’s members focused on highlighting mental health issues impacting on young people and organised a very successful mental health conference at Ballykisteen Hotel near Tipperary, which retired Munster rugby star Alan Quinlan addressed.
Declan said the delegates at the Comhairle AGM voted to focus on sexual health issues in 2013 and over the coming weeks will begin working on the initiatives they plan to roll out around this theme.
Mikaela Coffey, aged 15, from St Anne’s Secondary School in Tipperary Town was one of nine new members elected.
She has attended the Comhairle agm for the past three years but this was the first year her campaign to get elected was successful.
“It’s the best thing I have ever done and I never want to leave it. The friends I have made through Comhairle and the work I have done has made me feel very confident about myself,” she said. As a member of the Comhairle’s Tipperary area sub-group, Mikaela from Glenview Square, Tipperary was very involved in organising the mental health conference in Ballykisteen.
Like Tipperary’s co. councils, South Tipp Comhairle na nOg will be uniting with its northern counterpart in 2014. This has already led to a significant reduction in council seats on South Tipperary Comhairle with fierce competition for the elected council seats at the agm.