LIFE’S twists and turns must be navigated with resilience and strength.
That was the message delivered to an audience of 400 transition year pupils from schools throughout West Cork attending a conference organised by the Local Enterprise Office in The Celtic Ross Hotel in Rosscarbery recently.
The ‘Leaders on our Level’ conference was held for students undertaking the West Cork schools enterprise programme which sees them set up and run their own mini enterprises.
Students were welcomed by Kevin Curran, head of enterprise, Local Enterprise Office Cork North and West and addressed by a diverse line-up of speakers including former minor and intermediate Cork hurler Dessie Fitzgerald whose life changed irrevocably during a junior county final in 2011 leaving him with a spinal cord injury. This, along with the sudden deaths of his two brothers, called on Dessie to dig deeper within himself than he ever thought possible, forcing him to make the choice between resenting such cruel blows or fighting back from the brink to create a new life beyond what he ever imagined or what doctors thought possible.
Now a motivational speaker and life coach, Fitzgerald spoke to the students about building resilience and the ongoing journey that everyone must take to create the best life possible for themselves.
Other speakers included DC Cahalane, CEO, Republic of Work, who imparted his knowledge of building successful startups to the students; Bernie O’Sullivan, Forest and Flock, craft store in Bantry, who spoke about branding and what customers look for in craft products and Neville O’Donogue, Benchwarmers.ie who spoke about turning his hobby and passion in to a successful business.
Kevin said: ‘Today is all about you. You are the next business and thought leaders and I hope that today is the beginning of your successful entrepreneurial journey. This programme is led by you with the support of your fantastic teachers who make special efforts to bring you to this event to broaden your horizons. Today’s speakers are proof that life is not a linear route, it has twists and turns that must be navigated with resilience and a special strength of character which we witnessed in person here today from Dessie and our other business leaders.’
The participating schools present at the event were: Beara Community School, Castletownbere, Colaiste Phobail Bantry, Schull Community College, Sacred Heart Secondary School Clonakilty, Clonakilty Community College, Kinsale Community School, Colaiste na Toirbhirte Bandon, MICC Dunmanway, and Mount Saint Michael Rosscarbery, Skibbereen Community School.
The Student Enterprise programme has been in existence since 2004 with schools from West Cork gaining national recognition for their projects in the past. Throughout the programme, students are exposed to all the realities and challenges faced by entrepreneurs in every stage of business development from market research and production to sales and marketing.
Each of the 10 West Cork schools will compete with their enterprises in the regional finals next February where one team will be chosen to represent West Cork and hopefully secure a place at the National Finals in Croke Park.
Tim Lucey, CEO, Cork County Council added: ‘Events such as this are incredibly important as students are offered a view to the world outside of the school gates. The Student Enterprise Programme is important because it gives pupils the opportunity to discover new things about themselves that the traditional school subjects may not always give. I am sure that we will meet many of these students further down the line when they set up their own successful businesses and hopefully create further employment for the region.’