The National Youth Council of Ireland, the Union of Students in Ireland and SpunOut invite you to attend European Parliament (EP) hustings around Ireland, to put youth issues on the agenda.
These events in Galway, Cork and Dublin will be an opportunity for young voters to voice your concerns to EP candidates and to hear how they intend to address youth issues such as youth employment, higher education, mental health, the environment, mobility and language rights if elected.
Find out more on www.pledge2reg.ie or confirm your place below.
Disclaimer: These are public events which will be recorded and by attending you are consenting to be photographed/recorded. Reimbursement available for public transport (bring receipts).
I first discovered Chris Hadfield around the same time as just about everyone else. I had seen some of his pictures of Dublin and Ireland from space, and I began following him online and kept track of what he was posting. He shared some incredible things with us, from pictures of his view of the world from space to youtube videos on how to brush your teeth in zero gravity. I found him very interesting, and so did everyone else, which is why he remains so popular even back on earth.
When Commander Hadfield came to Ireland in December to sign copies of his book An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, an event that I had been planning to go to for months in advance, I was in work. So, my sister went into town, got a book for herself and for me and queued for hours around the side of Easons in the wind and the rain, alongside hundreds of other people, so that she could have the book signed for me.
Recently when it comes to reading I've not been the best at keeping it up. I've started so many books and I have so many more that I've intended to start reading. But this book I read straight away, and I continued to read it straight through over the next few weeks without drifting off towards something else. The reason is it's one of the most interesting books I've ever read.
I wasn't really sure what to expect. I suppose I thought it would just be like any other autobiography - an account of their life and their career up to the point that they're at now. Essentially, that's what it is. But it's also so much more. Reading this book has taught me so many things about Chris Hadfield, about what it is like to be an astronaut, about the logistics behind becoming an astronaut and travelling to space, about hard work and perseverance, but most importantly, I think it's taught me something about myself. Every situation faced by Hadfield is met by determination and a willingness to do whatever needs to be done to continue on, even if the odds of achieving your final goal are against you.
He talks you through the mindset of an astronaut faced with any situation, teaches you how to think like an astronaut to successfully overcome or "work the problem". Reading this I started to realise that everything he says can be applied to any situation. You don't have to be sitting on a launchpad counting down until you're blasted to space to know that there's ways you can work efficiently under pressure. Any advice he gives for that situation can equally be applied to the 5 exams I have to sit this month. And you don't have to be one of 5,329 applicants for a position as an astronaut to understand the importance of remaining focused and being prepared even if there's a chance you may not end up exactly where you expected to be.
I am one of quite a smaller number of people applying for my year abroad in Canada. The university that is my top choice is a popular one this year. I can relate every bit of Hadfield's astronaut application process to my own study abroad process, however insignificant it may seem in comparison to his mission, if you'll pardon the pun. I'm determined to secure my place at my top choice but willing to accept that I may end up at a different university. It's all the same stuff, just on a smaller scale.
I think that this book is a reminder that if you have a goal in life, the best thing you can do is to keep working towards it, stay focused and always try to do what you can to bring yourself closer. It doesn't really matter what it is, so long as it's important to you. In 1969 when Chris Hadfield decided he wanted to become an astronaut at the age of 9 it was an idea that was, at the time, quite impossible. The important thing is that from that day on, even though the likelihood was that it would never happen, he set about planning his life around this ultimate goal, and did everything he could that could get himself closer and then one day, it became possible. If he gave up all those years before and just said "nah, it'll never happen", then it wouldn't have happened. But he didn't, and it did.
There are always going to be obstacles in your way. You might see a future for yourself that seems so unlikely that you tell yourself to snap out of it and get on with the real world. But that doesn't mean that you can't keep doing things, even small things, that could lead you there. Some day, the future you want for yourself might become your real world.
Stranger things have happened. People have been to space.
I leave you with this comic from Zen Pencils, who turned a quote from Chris Hadfield, which basically sums up all this post has been about, into this incredible comic:
Apply online for a Medical Card/ GP Visit Card
Medical Cards allow people access to doctors, hospitals, community health services, dental services and to receive prescriptions at an extremely low cost rate (€1.50 cent per prescription, with a monthly ceiling of €19.50). Children under the care of the HSE do not have to pay these charges.
What if I am not eligible for a Medical Card?
You will receive a decision on your completed application within a short time of applying. If you are not satisfied with the decision, you can apply to have it reviewed at your Local Health Office. It may have been a simple case of leaving out important information on the form. If you still do not qualify, you may appeal to the Appeals Office of your HSE Area. (The contact details will be contained in your letter of refusal). The Appeals Office will conduct a reassessment of your application. This will be conducted by HSE staff not involved in deciding on your original application.
GP Visit Cards:
Other HSE schemes:
If you are not entitled to a Medical Card or a GP Visit Card there are other HSE schemes that you can apply for. These schemes are as follows:
Drugs Payment Scheme - This scheme states that no family ever has to pay more than €144 a month for prescriptions drugs once they are registered for the scheme. The new rate of €144 applies from January 2013 onwards.
Long-Term Illness Scheme - If you have certain illnesses you are entitled to free prescriptions and appliances. Examples of long-term illness include diabetes, epilepsy and spina bifida.
Children and young people in care are entitled to the same rights as all other children and young people. There are various acts and laws that specify what these rights are. SpunOut details these below:
The Irish constitution states that:
If parents cannot provide for their children for physical or moral reasons, the state must "endeavour to supply the place of the parents, but always with due regard for the natural and imprescriptible rights of the child."
In 2012 the Irish public voted yes to the Children's Rights Referendum and agreed to change this wording slightly.
However, two days before the Children's Rights Referendum was held, the Supreme Court ruled that the Irish government had violated the Irish Constitution by using public funds to only promote the yes vote only.
Then, in November 2012 two women brought another case to the High Court. They claimed that since public money was only used to campaign for the no vote, this illegally affected the results. The ruling of this case is pending, so for now the Constitution wording has not yet been changed.
When I was six all I wanted for Christmas was my two front teeth. Actually I tell a lie, all I wanted was for my two front teeth to fall out so that I could take the centre stage in my school Christmas show, singing said song. Alas, it wasn’t to be, and my best friend lost her two front teeth and got to sing the song. My pearly whites decided to break free two weeks after Christmas.
Now 16 years on, my two front teeth are the object of my obsession again, but this time I most definitely don’t want them to fall out! I’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to get those bad boys straightened out and that, mo chairde, means train-tracks. I’ve put it off and put it off, but now that I won’t get bullied in secondary school and won’t miss out on all the men in college, I’ve finally run out of excuses and got myself a great big mouth of metal.
Surprisingly it’s not quite as bad as you’d expect. For the first week I was on a diet of liquids, as I couldn’t bite into anything, which was great for my plans to lose a few pounds before hitting the beaches in Spain this summer but three weeks on, I can eat most foods. Not being able to chew gum is one thing I definitely miss, however I have been told by former brace wearers that it is possible; I just have yet to figure out the knack of it. Also walking around with a great big chunk of food in my braces brings the ‘spinach in my teeth’ fear to a whole new level. Luckily, my sister bought me a very cute compact mirror that has solved that problem.
Another problem is that I talk a lot. Now contrary to what you might have heard, braces don’t give you a lisp or make you talk funny. It’s just that when you try to talk and cover your teeth with your lips at the same time, the words come out a bit funny. The real problem is that when I talk a lot, the insides of my cheeks rub against the braces and it hurts, a lot. So I’ve regressed to my teething days and Bonjela has become my new best friend, coupled with this wax stuff the orthodontist gives you which covers over the brackets and prevents the aggravation. A word of warning though, don’t forget to take the wax off before you eat, it really doesn’t taste good.
Photos are my main bugbear at the minute. I’m one of those people who takes a camera everywhere and always has a big grin showing off all my teeth in all their crooked glory. However there is no escaping the fact that metal in your mouth just doesn’t look that good in pics. So I’ve been trying to master the closed mouth smile which is a lot harder than you think, I either look like I’m trying to pull off some sort of sultry pout that is just going wrong or else like a smug git that is smirking at something but nobody can tell what. So I’m avoiding the cameras until my Hollywood smile is perfected and unleashed on the world in all its straight, blindingly white and perfect glory!
I am now 16-years-old. I have had bad years and good years, but I just want to share my story with you guys.
Three years ago, I was just having a normal Wednesday night in when we got a call saying that my uncle has been rushed into hospital. I didn’t go, but my parents rushed off. I knew something was up though, so stayed on Windows Live Messenger all night waiting for my uncle's daughter to log on. She never did, so I became very upset! The next day I went to school and couldn't stop thinking about him.
I wrote letters and I prayed and cried a lot. That Thursday, my little brother and I were taken out of school early and brought into the life support unit in the hospital. This was it: I knew something was up. I left with my older brother and talked to him about it, he said that this might be it and that we were all there for the family and that we had to be strong. But I wasn’t able to be strong.
To this day, my uncle inspires me. Yet there he was, so very ill. I couldn’t bring myself to see him because it was just too upsetting. Sadly, the worst happened: he died.
Afterwards, I took up fishing, one of his most favourite sports. So my brother and I have lived the memory of him. We even fish in a spot he fished in as a child.
Three years on, I am told that I am the spitting image of him, wherever I go. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but it gets to me too, as I didn’t get to tell him I loved him or to say goodbye. I know that we will meet again someday and go fishing (I hope). However, my family have never gotten over it and it has led to rows and lies and fights! We do always make up in the end though.
I just want to get my story out there to show that there is happiness after you lose someone. I even took up a sport that I like. I go fishing at the lake and just sit and peacefully talk to him. And when I catch a fish, he's always there beside me.
So don’t be scared to express what you want or feel because it's always okay to. There is a way through this.
What is wrong with us? We can be as advanced and as mature as we like, but yet be buckled by a smile or a flutter of eyes, rendering us helpless and mindless. Can it be stopped?
The human brain: so evolved, so complex and so ruddy useful in everyday activities. I mean, try and imagine life without one and you couldn’t, simply because your imagination is in your brain. It’s more advanced that the bridge of the Starship Enterprise! And each and every one of us has one just hanging out in our heads – brilliant. The human brain is the biggest mammal brain in relation to body size. The frontal lobes are also the most developed of any other animal. These handy little bits hang out at the front (frontal, it’s in the name really) and deal with logic, self-control and imagination, the stuff that makes us human really.
Now before you accuse me of having a zombiesque love of brains, I realise that the brain isn't all good. It misplaces PIN numbers just when I’m at the ATM and it muddles up words as they are on their way down to my mouth. Plus, for as long as I can remember, it has been developing crushes on people. Not just passing admirations either, but 'full whack', lack-of-sleep-causing infatuations.
At the beginning, these are wonderful. It’s the same as the early stages of love, which feels a bit like eating too much lemon meringue pie – you feel a little sick, but you’re happy about it. You want to see this person as much as possible, perhaps changing your daily schedule slightly to do so. You think of any excuse to talk to them, if you are even able to talk to them. Then you start to torture yourself with every little smile and hair toss they exhibit, until you are convinced you love them. Eventually, you convince yourself that they love you too.
At this stage, some people finally pluck up enough courage to make that all important first move. This can be tricky because the object of your affection may either: a) not know you exist, or b) not think of you along the same lines, i.e. the greatest living thing to walk this earth, and oh how you make the earth so much better by just being in it.
Of course, there are the occasions where mutual feelings have been sizzling below the surface. Great, but you can forget about having any sort of meaningful relationship. You have created a pedestal so high that you will need good walking boots and some sort of energy bar to mount it. They are only human after all, and not the god or goddess you have created them in your brain to be, and so they are probably just going to disappoint you. Even if you’ve both been crushing equally on each other, you are both going to end up disappointed. So all and all, the whole crush situation is a lose-lose one.
So why does our brain allow us to have them? Continually we fall harder and harder for people, not learning from past crushing crushes, much like the lab rat that keeps reaching for the food pellet, despite the continuing electric shock. The thing is, crushes come from lust, and lust is an irrational feeling from a very primitive part of our brains. No matter how developed our frontal lobes become, we will always have these feelings, until evolution gets its act together anyway.
In the meantime, we have to try and live with them. Just as the Enterprise runs best with a mixture of Spock's and Kirk's logic and instincts, our heads also run better with a balance. So will we continue to have crushes and the gut wrenching feelings that go along with them? Yes, but we will also understand why. Don’t worry if that little fact doesn’t cheer you up, it’s not supposed to.
What is trust and why is it important?
Trust is the ability to have faith and belief in another person. If we trust someone, we trust that they will be there for us and we feel that it is safe to share secrets, private thoughts and emotions with them. Basically, if we trust someone, we feel we can be close to them.
Trust is the bedrock of a relationship really. Without trust, a relationship or friendship simply cannot survive.
Why you may not be able to trust:
What happens when you don’t trust anyone?
How to learn to trust:
What is a smear test?
The smear test is a method of screening that detects pre-cancerous changes in a woman's cervix (the neck of the womb). That means the test will show up any abnormal changes that could lead to cancer of the cervix. A smear test can detect changes very early on, at a pre-cancerous stage. Cervical cancer can take 10-15 years to develop, making it a very preventable disease. After breast cancer, cervical cancer is the most common type of cancer found in women: that’s why we need to have regular smear tests.
It’s recommended that women start having regular smear tests (about every 3 years although there’s a lot of different opinions) from their early 20s upwards. However if you’re younger than that and sexually active, you should ask your doctor if it’s a good idea to start smear tests earlier. When you have your first smear test you’ll need to return for a second test one year later.
What happens during a smear test?
See Tellher.ie for more information on cervical cancer and the link to human papillomavirus, the smear testing process and lots more.
Rub a dub dub dub.... welcome to the world of massage. It may be something you think of as a luxury for special occasions, but massage has many health benefits and is worth pursuing on a regular basis.
Whether you are a massage regular or have never been touched, check out our guide.
Health benefits of massage:
Types of massage:
Budgeting for massage:
How to give yourself/ a friend a massage:
Chocolate truly is the stuff of the god's.
Few foods can boast such an amazing melt-in-the-mouth experience as good quality chocolate. Yummy! Yet choc is not just an amazing indulgence, it even packs a nutritional punch. Yep, chocolate contains magnesium, zinc, copper and iron. It even contains a type of fat called stearic acid, which is supposed to be good for the heart. It’s all good.
Chocolate has been around for eons, so it certainly has an interesting history about it. Here are a few tidbits: