IT Tralee were one of ten third level institutions who received an award at the REACT inaugural presentation ceremony. The REACT (Responding to Excessive Consumption of Alcohol in Third Level) awards were presented by the Minister of State for Education Ms Mary Mitchell O'Connor in Dublin City University last Wednesday. The Minister congratulated the 10 institutions involved in this ground-breaking initiative.
REACT is an awards and accreditation scheme for third level institutions who implement an action plan in partnership with their students and student leaders that seeks to reduce the adverse consequences of excess alcohol consumption. Institutions were required to complete 8 mandatory actions and select from a larger suite of 18 optional actions to devise and implement their own institution-specific local action plans rolled out over the past 4 years.
In 2015, 15 of the country's third level institutions expressed an interest in committing to the programme, which was developed by UCC Health Matters in collaboration with the Union of Students in Ireland and the Irish Student Health Association and jointly funded by the HSE and the Philanthropic Tomar Trust. Over the 4 years, 10 of the institutions continued their efforts and details of their actions were submitted for evaluation and accreditation by independent reviewers in June this year, with all 10 recognised at the awards ceremony. Amongst the many actions implemented by IT Tralee was the provision of an on-line behavioural change tool on alcohol for incoming first year students, an updated substance misuse policy and the training of staff in the delivery of screening and brief interventions.
“The Institute of Technology Tralee is delighted to accept the REACT Award. The award is a recognition of the commitment of the Institute to our student’s health and wellbeing. Wellbeing and learning are inextricably linked. When students are well they can better engage with their learning and flourish at third level. The institute’s staff, Student Union and the local Gardaí, Council and Tralee Community Drugs Initiative have been working together on this project to reduce alcohol related harm amongst our students. We will continue with our commitment to this project. I wish to acknowledge the work of institute staff, in particular Jackie Ruttledge, Health and Leisure Department, Rosalynd Hayes, Student Engagement and Retention Officer, Petrina Comerford, President of the Students Union and Joseph Kavanagh Vice President Education” stated Ms. Aileen Kennedy, Acting Vice President Academic Affairs and Registrar, Institute of Technology Tralee.
A key part of the success of the initiative has been the support of the Students Union. Dr. Michael Byrne, the Director of REACT from University College Cork, commented "REACT is about working in partnership with our students to address the issue of harms from excess alcohol. It is an innovative way of encouraging institutions to translate good intentions into actions and paper-based policies into whole institution plans."
Petrina Comerford, President of IT Tralee’s Students Union said “The Students Union were delighted to be part of the REACT committee and overwhelmed that the work of this committee was rewarded at the REACT awards ceremony.”
The institutions who received the REACT award were Dublin City University, IT Sligo, IT Tralee, Letterkenny IT, Limerick IT, Mary Immaculate College, National University of Ireland Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University College Cork and University of Limerick.