St Tiernan’s TY team leaders from Cuchulainn Heart Challenge. Photo by: Robbie Reynolds
St Tiernan’s TY team leaders from Cuchulainn Heart Challenge. Photo by: Robbie Reynolds

St Tiernan’s Community School have hosted a Cuchulainn Heart Challenge, the first of its kind in Ireland.

The Cuchulainn Heart Challenge is a Business, Enterprise and Citizenship Programme designed for school pupils aimed at nurturing them as future business leaders, responsible citizens and enterprising employees. It has been brought to over 400,000 secondary school children in the UK.

Transition year students working hard
Transition year students working hard

On Monday May 21, transition year students at the Balally school were split into teams and given a budget.

With the help of a panel of business experts from Dundrum Town Centre, who sponsored the event, and other local businesses, they were asked to develop a business plan that would benefit their community.

Dundrum Town Centre Director Don Nugent was chairperson of the event and told Dublin Gazette the students did brilliantly. He was very impressed with the topics they chose for their business plan.

“They picked five different topics. One was working with teenagers, another was working with the homeless, working with the unemployed, people who are approaching or in the thrones of bankruptcy which was really interesting, and working with the elderly in terms of educating them in using IT to help them feel less lonely.

“They were all very real, topical, and relevant subjects.”

TY students, local business experts and judging panel for Dundrum's Cuchulainn Heart Challenge. Photo: Robbie Reynolds
TY students, local business experts and judging panel for Dundrum’s Cuchulainn Heart Challenge. Photo: Robbie Reynolds

At the end of the day, the teams presented their final business proposal to the rest of the students and a panel of judges, and each team was recognised for their achievements with a crystal trophy in an award ceremony.

The overall award went to Team One: ‘Help Us Help You.’ Team leader Conor Finlay told us what their project was all about.

“We choose the teenager years because we can relate most to it. The main part was emotion. There can be a lot of changes and mental health issues for some teenagers, and aspects of being a teenager can be rough on some people.”

“We came up with an idea of getting a council group together. It would be here in the hall. It would be free, and we would have professional doctors and stuff coming in to help them.”

Local councillor and chair of the board of management at St Tiernan’s, Lettie McCarthy (Lab), said the reaction to the challenge was amazing: “I think the insight they have into issues like depression, suicide, homeless, or fatigue if you’re a single parent – things I don’t think I would’ve had that insight into at their age,” said Cllr McCarthy.

Community Sergeant Ivan Howlin said: “All the students have all learned something about respect, about listening to each other, and about enjoying themselves. That’s what life is about.”

CEO of the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Chamber Gabby Mallon was also very impressed with the students. She said: “The kids nowadays are very socially aware, [they] are way ahead. The young people coming up are the future, and it’s in safe hands with them.”