Sunday 22 October 2017

Cycle against suicide rolls into town

By David Tucker

A warm Wexford welcome as the cyclists arrive down Hill Street.
A warm Wexford welcome as the cyclists arrive down Hill Street.
Robert O'Callaghan, principal at St. Peter's - an 'anchor school' for Cycle Against Suicide - and Jim Breen, cycle organiser.
Robert O'Callaghan, principal at St. Peter's - an 'anchor school' for Cycle Against Suicide - and Jim Breen, cycle organiser.
Organiser Jim Breen with Ellen Downey, who is a C-SAW (Community of Suicide Awareness Workers) Ambassador and teacher in Scoil Mhuire, Coolcotts, addressing the cyclists at St. Peter's College.
Vincent Byrne and Warren Gillen taking part in the cycle.
Caroline and Mark Doyle.
Students Luke Cox, John Winters, Dylan Kehoe and Wayne Connolly at St. Peter's College.
Jim Breen addresses the cyclists and students at St. Peter's College.
The cyclists on the N25 on their way into Wexford.
Brendan Rossiter, Edmond Cleary and Sean Staples at St. Peter's College.

Wexford was transformed into a sea of orange on Thursday evening and Friday morning as thousands of cyclists swept in and out of the town as part of Cycle Against Suicide 2016 - with the powerful message: 'Together we can break the cycle'.

At Wexford Bridge, the cyclists were waved off by uniformed members of the RNLI, while students from the CBS, some with their faces painted orange, provided an 'hour guard'. It was a boisterous departure, with the gardai and Civil Defence escorting the peleton as motorists honked their horns in support of the campaign.

A few minutes after the last of the main group of cyclists and support cars headed over the bridge, a lone cyclist clad in orange pedalled hard to catch up with them, to the ethusiastic support of the spectators making their way back into the town.

Youngsters from other secondary schools were out in force as well, showing their support for a very worthwhile cause.

On Thursday evening, the cyclists were escorted into Wexford by some cycling staff and students from St Peter's College, who rode to Carrickbyrne, ahead of their overnight stay.

Over the past weeks and months, the school has had a series of presentations on the topic of achieving and maintaining positive mental health, and some staff and students trained hard for their leg of the main cycle.

On Friday morning, after a great Wexford welcome, the peleton departed for the north of the county via Blackwater.

According to Cycle Against Suicide organisers, involvement in the event is set to peak in 2016, with approximately 7,000 cyclists expected to participate in the 14-day, 1,100 kilometre cycle around Ireland.

St. Peter's College Secondary School Link Teacher Thomas Gleeson, said the college was delighted to have been nominated as an Anchor School for Cycle Against Suicide, as it travels around the country spreading the message that 'It's OK not to feel OK; and it's absolutely OK to ask for help'.

'What a great message to give all young people. Our whole school community of staff, parents and friends are excited about this initiative. The impact of this type of activity is powerful and far reaching, not just in our schools, but also in the community. It gets the conversation around mental health going, and highlights the support services that are available to those who need them,' said Mr Gleeson.

The local Homestay team worked tirelessly to ensure that all cyclists and crew requiring Homestays were accommodated, which Mr Gleeson said was a huge testament to the generosity, support and spirit of the community of Summerhill.

On Friday morning, an inspiring, informative and energetic event was held in St. Peter's College, comprising of presentations from guest speakers, entertainment, and exhibitions from local and national Mental Health Organisations.

The primary aim of those events was to positively change our mind set and behaviour around mental health and emotional wellbeing by conveying Cycle Against Suicide's core message that 'It's OK not to feel OK; and it's absolutely OK to ask for help'.

Cycle Against Suicide founder, Jim Breen said he had been 'blown away' by the phenomenal response from the schools and communities involved in the Cycle on this, the fourth year of the event.

'Each year, over the two weeks of our Cycle, we give presentations in schools, businesses and communities all around the island of Ireland, and we witness how hugely responsive people are to that message.

'We also see the value people place on their own mental wellbeing, and that of their friends and families.

'Together, shoulder to shoulder, we can empower one another to break the cycle of suicide on the island of Ireland.'

Wexford People

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