Ask any teenager to hand over their smartphone for a week and they will look at you as if demanded they part with their life savings.
But that’s exactly what students in Coláiste an Eachréidh secondary school in Athenry have volunteered to do; reluctantly at first, but then they embraced it with vigour – and with most positive results.
Deputy Principal Seán Ó Mainnín’s second year Irish class were reading the book Labhairamach.com in class one day. The main theme of the story was online bullying.
And as the class discussed this issue, he got an idea. The Irish teacher asked his second-year students would they be able to go a full week without using their mobile phones.
He admitted that the 38 pupils were initially concerned about the thoughts of this.
“At first the students were worried but when one or two people agreed, the others convinced each other that it was worth a try,” he said.
The Irish teacher noticed that the students found the first two days away from their small screen difficult.
“It was definitely challenging for them initially. Luckily all the parents were on board and after a day or two the students adapted quite well,” he added.
The second-year group did not use their mobile phones from May 22 to 29 – an ideal time, as they were in the middle of preparing for their summer exams.
Mr Ó Mainnín says he believed that without the distraction of the mobile phones, the students in the All-Irish secondary school were better equipped to study for their tests.
“Without a doubt I believe it helped them to prepare. The parents were saying to us that there were less distractions for them without the phones,” he said.
The students completed the challenge as the deputy principal believes the initiative was a success for the teenagers and their families.
“The feedback we got was amazing and it was definitely a worthwhile experiment.”
Natasha Shionnaigh was one of the parents who believed that the experiment helped her daughter Amy to focus on her studies and improve her wellbeing.
“I think the ‘No Phone’ experiment was a very good idea. It highlighted to Amy the amount of free time she had. She used it by doing extra studying for her upcoming exams, going for walks and reading,” she said.
Sarah Kelly, whose daughter Katie went a week without spending time on her smartphone, said that her family will aim to use their phones less after seeing the positive effect it had on their daughter.
“The phone initiative was great for our house as Katie was definitely more engaged with her family and spent more quality time with us rather than updating snaps and talking in group chats,” she said.
After they successfully completed the week-long initiative, the students were treated to a fun filled trip to Bay Sports in Athlone, which is Ireland’s largest inflatable waterpark.
Mr Ó Mainnín said: “They were very excited with the trip and they did enjoy it. They thought it was an amazing experience.”
The deputy principal believes this initiative could be trialled across all the different year groups in the school.
“We could roll it out for all years. It was a good idea to start with one group first. We have had other groups look at the second year students and say we could do that too.”
Pubs to remain closed and restrictions on gatherings unchanged
Pubs and nightclubs will not be allowed to open next week, while restrictions will remain in place on indoor and outdoor gatherings, as the Government decided to postpone Phase 4 of the Roadmap to Recovery for a second time.
It will also become compulsory to wear face coverings in shops and shopping centres from next Monday.
Taoiseach Micheal Martin made the announcement this evening, adding that the current situation will be reviewed again in three week’s time.
Asked if pubs would reopen at all this year, the Taoiseach said that due to the way the virus spreads, the Government “cannot give any guarantee right now2.
“International evidence shows very clearly that pubs and nightclubs reopening too early leads directly and inextricably to an increase in community transmission.
“I want [publicans] to know that I have enormous sympathy for their plight. The virus is taking away their ability to earn a living. It is stopping them from providing a key service in the heart of many communities.
“We have to heed our Chief Medical Officer and NPHET [the National Public Health Emergency Team] advice and we have to keep the pressure on this virus.
“I know this will come as a bitter disappointment to many people; the Cabinet has agreed to continue with the current public health measures that are in place. Pubs, bars, hotel bars, nightclubs and casinos will remain closed.
“The current restrictions on numbers attending indoor and outdoor gatherings will remain unchanged [50 people indoors and 200 outdoors].
“We will review the evidence again in three weeks’ time.
“This virus has not changed. It remains as virulent as ever and it is constantly on the search for new people to infect. It remains completely indiscriminate in its cruelty. But as dangerous as it is, we have shown we can beat it. Each one of us has the power to suppress it,” the Taoiseach said.
At a press conference tonight, Mr Martin also said that pubs which are currently trading (with food) will have to close at 11pm.
The Government has also announced that five locations – Malta, Cyprus, San Marino, Monaco and Gibraltar – have been removed from the so-called ‘Green List’.
Influx of visitors heightens Covid fears
Local health chiefs are planning for the worst case scenario of a second surge of Coronavirus brought on by domestic tourism – as ‘staycationers’ from parts of the country where the virus is more prevalent carry it into the west.
There has been just one new confirmed case of Covid-19 in Galway in the past week, and just a handful of new cases in the past several weeks.
But the authorities fear tourists from parts of the country more affected by the virus will result in an increase here during August and September.
There are also concerns that there are not enough beds in the public health system to cope with a resurgence of Covid-19 alongside regular winter hospital admissions.
Tony Canavan, CEO of Saolta, which manages public hospitals in the West, at the HSE West Regional Health Forum this week, said health workers are anxious that the deadly virus will spread to the West, as the reopening of society continues.
“There are concerns among those working in the health system associated with Government plans to reopen society and the economy, even though we know that is absolutely necessary and important for the well-being of the population as a whole.
“But the concerns we have relate to the greater movement of people whether it’s going to and from work, or going about their business, whether it’s attending the shops or entertainment events and so on, and that greater movement of people creates an environment where the risk of the spread of Covid-19 is increased.
“We’re particularly concerned in the West and North West, that there would be a level of movement of people associated with tourism at this time of year,” said Mr Canavan.
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Chanelle McCoy unveils her clinically proven cannabinoid cure
The usage of CBD food supplements to treat a whole raft of illnesses and conditions in recent years has given rise to concern that many of the products currently on the market are being sold to consumers without any clinical trials to verify their safety.
It was the rise in demand for these products that first caught the attention of well-known Loughrea business woman Chanelle McCoy who this week, together with her business partner and fellow Galwegian Caroline Glynn, launched the first CBD product on the Irish market that has been clinically proven to be safe – Pureis.
Chanelle, whose family business Chanelle Pharma in Loughrea has a proven track record in the medical world, stepped back from that venture five years ago to focus on her own Chanelle McCoy Health.
“My family business in Chanelle Pharma in Loughrea and so I’ve worked there for about 18 years. When I joined the business, it was a veterinary business and my father and I co-founded the medical side of the business. Then I was lucky to have the opportunity to lead that medical business over the last 18 years with a great team and with Caroline working with me,” says Chanelle of the beginning of her working relationship with Caroline.
“We bought the medical business into 96 countries around the world and we got over 2,500 product licences granted across those 96 countries. We would be looking at products in terms of what to put into the R&D pipeline and I started looking at CBD back in 2015, probably inspired a bit by Vera Twomey and the inability for moms like her to access good quality CBD products for kids like Ava,” she says, explaining that Cork woman Vera Twomey’s plight to secure cannabidiol treatment for her daughter’s epilepsy was a real eye-opener.
Read the full feature in this week’s Connacht Tribune, on sale in shops now. You can also add the paper to your online grocery delivery; you can purchase a digital edition here, or you can have it delivered at no extra charge by An Post; full details are on this website.