The impact of Covid and the shutdown of normal society on children has been enormous with schools shut for months on end and the socialisation that is a part of growing up denied them in so many ways.
Clinging to things that can give a sense of purpose and of teamwork have been more important than ever before and it was a privilege once again to support the PExpo for 2021, the sporting equivalent of the Young Scientist Exhibition.
The initiative came to life in 2015, developed by a group of dedicated teachers and in association with the Physical Education Association of Ireland, with the aim of developing an understanding of PE, sport, fitness and nutrition among secondary school students.
It has grown since that time, moving from its original home of Trinity Comprehensive School in Ballymun to the halls of Dublin City University. In 2020 it was one of the last events that Sport for Business attended prior to lockdown where we interviewed Olympian Jack Wooley and others in front of an audience made up of some of the 1,000 students from around the country that had submitted projects.
Keeping it going in 2021 was always going to be a challenge in its best form but the team pulled out all the stops to create a virtual entry the judging of which took place last week.
Entrants submitted a 2 mins 30 seconds video of their project and then answered questions from the judges during a 15-minute video call. Projects were judged not only on content but also on presentation and the ability of the students to explain their project and defend their conclusions.
A project on the impact of second-level education on adolescent well-being won the overall senior prize. Shane O’Connor and Liam Carew from Abbey School in Tipperary Town had collaborated on the project.
The best junior project winner was Caoimhe Walsh of St Brogan’s College, Bandon, Co Cork for her project titled “Can-teens make better food choices?”
In fact, Walsh took three awards in all – she also won the nutrition category prize and the Sport for Business award which we have supported in recent years.
We are hoping to have Caoimhe join us to explain her project on the Sport for Business Daily later this week.
Other winners included Thembi Nkosi from Trinity Comprehensive in Ballymun for her project on intersex athlete Castor Semenya. Mount Temple School had two winners – Harry Savar for his “Well-Being App” and Ella Cormack and Ella Travers for a project on “Developing Mini Games for child development”.
Prizes were awarded under seven main headings – ICT and Sports Photography, The Power of Sport, Well-Being, Mental and Social, Components of Fitness, Nutrition, Games Development, and Sports Psychology.
With physical education now a Leaving Cert subject, two extra categories were added last year – Leaving Cert PE and Senior Cycle PE.
A special primary school ward went to Mayo NS, from Crettyard, in Co Laois for a project on ‘Multiple Ways of Jumping.’
Supporters of PExpo ’21 included Dublin City Council, South Dublin Sports Partnership, Trinity College Dublin, Healthy Ireland, University of Limerick, Independent Newspapers, Sport for Business and Chillax Teens as well as Trinity Comprehensive School, the Physical Education Association of Ireland and the Irish Primary PE Association.
It is an initiative that deserves to move to another level of engagement and promotion and would be an excellent partnership opportunity for a brand looking to tap into the imagination and creativity of schoolchildren while building something of real importance.
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