Jacinta O’Brien remembered in a record-breaking year – Ryan Meaney

In a year like no other we have been faced with many challenges. In my context as a Teaching Assistant in PESS, one of the many challenges was how best to deliver SS4404-Coaching Science and Performance 3 along with Dr Ian Sherwin and Eimear Kelly. A major aspect of this module involves the organisation and delivery of the ‘Jacinta O’Brien Memorial Event, which in previous years has included 5k, 10k and colour runs on campus. Given the nature of the restrictions that were in place at the beginning of the semester, a new approach was needed.

It was decided that the Jacinta O’Brien memorial event would be a virtual this year and would be comprised of two smaller events which were: 1- The Ireland Centennial Challenge, 2- #999ForTheFronline.

Our role as Teaching Assistants was to create an environment and a framework that would allow the students to flourish in their efforts organising this event. The key thing for us was to ensure that the students felt they had full ownership of the event. Ultimately, we are there to support our student’s development in their time here in UL, so it is important that they can experience all that is involved in event management. Our students were given full control over the design of these events and we created various committees to tackle the workload.  They picked up some great tips along the way from guest speakers who kindly gave their time to contribute to the module. These included Spin Southwest radio presenter and Limerick Leader columnist Louise Cantillon, Great Limerick Run race director John Cleary, and finally Operation Transformation leader and frontline nurse Hazel Hartigan. It is a credit to this student group that despite having to organise the Jacinta O Brien Memorial Event during a worldwide pandemic they have managed to raise a record-breaking amount of money for charity. €6,279 was raised and will be evenly split between The Irish Cancer Society, The Mater Foundation, and the Limerick Suicide Watch.

On a personal level I must give a special thank you to all the students who worked so hard and diligently on this event to make it the success that it was. It has been an incredibly satisfying process to be involved in to see the development of this event over the course of the semester. I must also acknowledge the tireless work of my colleagues Eimear Kelly and Dr Ian Sherwin who put in a lot of hours behind the scenes to get things off the ground. Finally, a massive thank you to all those who have supported the Jacinta O’Brien Memorial Event 2021, whether it was with a donation or with a share on social media, every little helped!

Ryan Meaney is a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Physical Education and Sports Sciences, University of Limerick.  Contact: Ryan.Meaney@ul.ie,                   Profiles:  Linked-In , Twitter

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