Shortly before the Halloween mid-term break, Transition Year students welcomed local Guard Tom O'Donoghue at their usual Wednesday morning assembly.
We all knew what to expect: the usual talk about being safe at Halloween, the same-old same-old we've been getting since when we were in primary school. Of course, this annual safety talk is important, but years after hearing the seemingly same script year-in year-out, the talk begins to get boring and, more dangerously, its message gets lost. This is a problem that Tom clearly knows about and clearly wants to solve.
Garda Tom spoke in a very personal and human way: although the usual message stayed the same, Tom delivered it with much more concern and stepped away from the usual monotonous script.
Once the message was delivered however, Tom wasn't finished. He went on to describe his life as a Guard, how he came to Kilcullen as well as some tales of his days in training. He showed us his gear and we even got to try some on!
I know too well the respect problem that exists between teenagers and adults -- and this works both ways. It's frustrating as a teenager when you're told to leave a shop, for the simple reason of "you can't stand around" when all your intentions were to browse around. This approach is very negative, I believe, on teenagers and does the opposite of what it hopes to achieve. Garda Tom's approach, however, is refreshing.
Tom assured us that we're all humans; we all make mistakes, even him. He told us that whatever trouble we were in, we could come to him, and he'd try his best to help him. He assured us that as our local Guard, Tom would be there for us. He reminded us about respect, and how we have to give some to get some. He didn't lecture us though, but rather encouraged us. Something I feel will go very far and should be spread more.
We would like to thank Garda Tom for his visit. He delivered an interesting and entertaining talk, and of course, educational!
It's certainly reassuring to know that we all have a local Guard to rely on.
(Written by Cathal McMahon)