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Institute of Technology Carlow to Host Erasmus+ Network Meeting on 26th/27th November 2018 to Address Low Educational Attainment of Boys Through Sports Students Mentoring Capacities

20/11/2018

The Institute of Technology Carlow is to hold an Erasmus+ network meeting on a novel research programme that aims to improve the educational attainment of boys and young men and prevent early school leaving through the mentoring abilities of sports students.  The SSaMs Project (Sport Science Students as Mentors) is funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union under action KA2– Co-operation for Innovation and the Exchange of Good Practices: Strategic Partnerships in Higher Education.

The project team consists of five partners from across Europe; Institute of Technology Carlow (Ireland), University of Gloucestershire (UK), University of Thessaly (Greece), Palacký University (Czech Republic), University of Murcia (Spain) and CESIE (Italy). The research team has a diverse range of skills and experiences in sports coaching, sports science, physical education, adapted physical activity and disabilities, men’s health and youth development. This is the third project network meeting with the other two having taken place at the University of Gloucestershire and Palacký University. 

The SSaMs project represents one of few initiatives in the EU targeted exclusively at boys and young men and is unique in its approach of gender-sensitive, strengths based mentoring work with sports students and young males. 

This innovative project was developed in response to the high rates of early school leaving amongst boys across the European Union. This can have negative implications across the life course for boys and young men in terms of social mobility, employment opportunities and health outcomes Sports students often work in schools, sporting organisations and other non-formal settings and hold a unique position to act as positive role models for young males. However, there are no existing courses for sports students that provide a foundation for this work.  To address this issue the SSaMs project team will develop ‘gender-sensitive’ resources for use within Higher Education Institutes to; (a) enhance the knowledge of undergraduate sports students with regard to work with boys and young men and (b) enable sports students to provide mentoring support in future vocational settings involving work with boys and young men to motivate them to continue their education.  

Speaking in advance of the meeting, Dr Patricia Mulcahy extended a warm welcome to the project’s international partners and stressed that the programme of work tied in very well with on-going voluntary outreach activities in local primary and secondary schools which are led by IT Carlow sport science students.   Dr Noel Richardson, Director of healthCORE, Institute of Technology Carlow and project lead emphasised the urgent need to address the issue of lower educational attainment among boys and stressed the potential of the SSaMs project in addressing this need. 

The focus of the two-day network meeting will be on refining the educational materials for use with sport students (Output 1) and developing a ‘train the trainer’ guide of how to implement the materials (Output 2). 

The research project commenced in November 2017 and will run until November 2018. The SSaMs Educational Learning Materials and Train-the-Train Materials will then be launched in each respective country and key stakeholders invited to attend. To find out more information on the project please visit the website https://sportsmentors.eu/