Rugby Star unveiled as official ambassador for the Think Big programme
Irish rugby star Johnny Sexton has been unveiled as an official ambassador for the nationwide Think Big programme. Think Big is a programme designed by O2 and Headstrong, the National Centre for Youth Mental Health, to enable young people to do projects in their community that will make a difference to theirs and to other young people’s mental health. This week, Johnny was at the O2 head office in Dublin, where he mentored participants from six Think Big projects, helping them to bring their ideas to life. The Ireland and Leinster Rugby player focused on the importance of positive mental health, teamwork and motivation, drawing on his own experiences as a rugby player and member of several successful teams.
As official ambassador for Think Big, Johnny will be supporting the programme throughout the year through a variety of mentoring initiatives. Mentoring is a key part of the Think Big programme, which is open to any young person in the Republic of Ireland, aged between 14 and 25, with an idea for a project that will make a difference to young people’s mental health. In the past number of month’s rugby players, Paul O’Connell and Brian O’Driscoll have also participated in mentor workshops with young people as part of the Think Big programme.
Speaking at the mentoring event, Johnny Sexton said: “I’m delighted to be an ambassador for the Think Big programme and I really admire the young people involved as they are being proactive about making a real difference in their local communities. The project ideas are fantastic and I was proud to be able to share my ideas with this group and hopefully help them to achieve their goals.”
The Think Big projects that Johnny addressed include:
The Big Laugh: Kyle Walsh from Sligo made a comedy DVD with members of his Foroige youth club. The DVD includes comedy sketches and footage of young people talking about what makes them laugh. The project is based on the idea that everybody needs to laugh and smile in order to feel good and it’s important to focus on the good, while acknowledging the bad times when they do arrive.
Fresh 2012: Through his project, Sean Brophy from Sallins, Co Kildare is teaching young people about music production and mental health and demonstrating how music can improve mental health. Sean’s group held a workshop at the end of March where they taught local young people how to record, produce and mix songs and communicated the positive impact music can have on mental health. Sean also plans to host an event that promotes new music and bands in Dublin.
Fighting Depression in Sport: Niamh O’Sullivan from Dublin wants to raise awareness of mental health issues in sport. Her project is about helping to remove the stigma surrounding depression in elite athletes and highlighting that a “strong body” does not always mean a strong mind. She plans to develop wristbands with the inscription “Inspiration, Perspiration, Communication” on the outside and “Fighting Depression in Sport” on the inside. These wristbands will be distributed to all relevant sportspeople, including runners, golfers and boxers.
Self Esteem Booster Team: Lauren Moran from Offaly has set up a project with the aim of helping people who feel they don’t fit in to their town or school. Lauren and her friends are organising a community event with a selection of inclusive games for anyone to join in, including egg and spoon races, three legged races and quizzes.
Crossing Minds: Greg McGuinness from Maynooth college has set up a project with the aim of developing student teachers’ capabilities in their role in supporting students about mental health issues. He wants to make student teachers more aware of their role within schools and how they can positively affect student’s mental wellbeing. Greg partnered with a number of organisations to develop a workshop to educate student teachers, which took place on Saturday 31st March and was a great success with 57 people attending.
Going Mental: Jordan Byrne and his friends from Marian College, Ballsbridge, are creating a number of Youtube videos to promote positive mental health in their school and community. They want to highlight the issues that young people face today and how they can affect your mental health. The group have already produced an anti-bullying short film for Youtube.
Sinead Smith, Corporate Responsibility Manager at O2 said: “The mentoring process within Think Big is hugely important as it provides useful tools and guidance to support young people in bringing their ideas to life. Almost one hundred O2 employees in Limerick and Dublin have signed up to mentor Think Big projects to date. We’re delighted that Johnny Sexton has agreed to be involved and has shared his knowledge and inspiration with the Think Big participants.”
Since launching in September 2010, the Think Big Programme has supported 140 projects across Ireland that will make a difference to young people’s mental health. In addition to receiving funding, each Think Big project group gets support from O2 and Headstrong in the form of mentoring and training to help them to bring their proposal to life. They also receive a mobile phone (with €50 credit), and a Think Big start-up pack.
For more information on Think Big, log on to www.o2thinkbig.ie