Community of Presentation Secondary School Thurles Walk to Kolkata – Virtually!
My mother always said, “The limitations you put on yourself are between your two ears”. So I decided to think outside the box and surmised…..just because we could not go to our PE class at school, didn’t mean that we couldn’t walk to Kolkata. One of the big challenges with the current Covid-19 lockdown, apart from the obvious restrictions on movement and socialising, is the associated impact on our mental health. As an active PE teacher, my ethos has always been (the old cliché) “a healthy mind in a healthy body.”
Over the last eight years, Presentation Secondary School Thurles has encouraged our TY students to support the Hope Foundation’s immersion program to Kolkata. The learning experience for these girls involved: fundraising over an eight month period; followed by traveling to Kolkata to see firsthand how their fundraising efforts can improve the lives of children in a community, which is far less fortunate than an Irish community.
To enable all of our students to be active, I decided it would be a good idea to link the two communities by leveraging upon the wider Presentation Secondary School Community. To my amazement, there was an outstanding show of support, determination and teamwork from the community of the Presentation Secondary School Thurles in virtually coming together and working together towards a common goal; something I am very proud of.
Our objective was to travel virtually from Thurles to Kolkata, India, which is a whopping distance of over 8,400 km. Everyone involved downloaded the Strava App to track their daily kilometers. Participants could travel by walking, running or cycling, and we even had a number of kilometers tracked on horseback! We set off early on Friday morning (15th May) from Thurles, with some brave souls commencing their walk at 5.30 a.m. Over four days, our travels brought us to Stuttgart in Germany, Bursa in Turkey, Kabul in Afghanistan, Delhi in India and finally, on Monday night (18th May), Kolkata. We not only achieved our 8,400 km goal, we actually smashed it with a whopping total of just over 10,000 kilometers, which enabled us to stop off en route in Delhi to meet with the Presentation Sisters for a cup of tea!
Not only did we virtually reach Kolkata; we got some fresh air and vitamin D, we had safe socially distant interactions and exercise on our journey; but we also learned something about history, geography, population density and climate change. We had fun learning together; a most enjoyable cross-curricular learning experience for everyone.
What I have learned from this event is the power of community engagement & involvement. Anything can be achieved if people come together with ambition, determination and with a common goal. A strong sense of pride of place was evident in many of the beautiful photographs that our students took of wildlife, flowers and the beautiful Tipperary scenery, and of course, the scenery beyond our Premier County, during their kilometers traveled. Indeed many of our past pupils and friends of our school, who live in other countries, clocked up kilometers for us, which was incredible.
Acknowledging the commitment of so many has to be mentioned. The kilometers walked by the Presentation Sisters in support of this venture, around convent grounds near and far; the support of staff and their families, past pupils, students and family groups. If I have left anyone out, I truly ‘Thank You’. Taking all of that into consideration, this exciting event surpassed my wildest dreams and expectations.
In order to acknowledge the exceptional commitment of our students over the four days, we have given a number of awards based upon the kilometers traveled and a couple of bonus prizes:
Cycling Only – Longest Distance
|1st Prize:||Victoria Lupton (TY)||164.57 km|
|2nd Prize:||Missy Condon (3rd Yr)||162.43 km|
|3rd Prize:||Caoilfhionn Gilvarry (6th Yr)||133.40 km|
|The O’Keeffe Family:||Joan (TY), Kate (2nd Yr), John & Majella||299.93 km|
On Foot: Running/Walking Only – Longest Distance
|1st Prize:||Sarah Doheny (6th Yr)||67.13 km|
|2nd Prize:||Lauren Moloney (6th Yr)||57.23 km|
|3rd Prize:||Hannah Hughes (6th Yr)||56.63 km|
|The Quigley Family:||Megan (5th Yr), Sue & Jonathan||133.14 km|
Quiz Competition winner: Katie Cleere (2nd Yr)
Best photograph: Aoibhinn O’Connell (3rd Yr)
Just goes to show: “Team Work Makes the Dream Work”.