Minister at the Department of Agriculture with responsibility for Farm Safety, Martin Heydon made the comments as he crowned the Agri Aware Farm Safe Schools National Champions supported by FBD.
Minister Heydon presented the students and their principal Lisa Jackson, of Scoil Naomh Bríd, Talbotstown, Kiltegan, Co. Wicklow, with their €2000 prize from the FBD Trust.
Minister Martin Heydon said:
“Well done to Agriaware, along with Agrikids, FBD and the IFA on the Farm Safe Schools pilot which has been a tremendous success. Changing the culture towards farm safety in Ireland is a huge challenge for us, and I believe children have a significant role to play by stimulating that conversation at home and calling out bad practice when they see it.
“Great credit is due to the pupils and their teachers for the enthusiasm and energy they all put into their projects. I look forward to this becoming an annual project that helps us to drive down the unacceptably high level of farm fatalities and serious incidents."
The entry from the small West Wicklow school beat off competition from nearly 500 schools across the whole country. And watch out Dr Dre, they even wrote a Farm Safe Rap:
Ms Jackson said:
“The Agri Aware Farm Safe Schools programme made learning real. We are a small rural school so all of the children had support from their families.
The kids from farms who felt they already knew about farm safely learned a huge amount from the programme. Parents, teachers and children of all ages came together to bring Farm Safe Schools to life. At the start we wanted to be a Superstar school, so to win is just so special for everyone.
The staff at Talbotstown NS even had some real-life learning from the Farm Safe Schools Programme according to Ms Jackson.
One of our special needs assistants was on a weekend camping trip and she saw a loose horse in the field they were in. They didn’t panic as they just remembered the Farm Safe Schools programme and looked at the horse’s ears. They were forward so she knew the horse was relaxed!”
Alan Jagoe Chairman of Agri Aware said:
“The quality of submissions and the evidence of learning we have witnessed over the past three months is a testament to the commitment and importance teachers have placed on this programme.
We thank every one of them for no not only introducing these modules into their classrooms also working to create a safer future on Irish farms by empowering tomorrow’s farmers today. On behalf of Agri Aware, I would like to thank FBD Trust for its support of this dedicated farm safety programme”.
John Cahalan, Chief Commercial Officer, FBD Insurance said:
“In FBD, we believe the promotion of Farm Safety is a very important topic and this programme enables children to enact real change on farms.
It is great to see the interest that students across the country have shown in this programme and we commend the efforts of all the schools who have taken part.
On behalf of the team at FBD I would like to send our congratulations to everybody at Scoil Naomh Bríd, this year’s Agri Aware Farm Safe Schools National Champion supported by FBD and to the runners up in Ballymore National School.
We heartily applaud all of the students and teachers who have taken part in this year’s Farm Safe Schools programme and encourage you all to keep up the great work."
Finally, Alma Jordan, Agrikids & IFA Farm Safety Officer said:
“The children in Talbotstown encompassed all we had envisioned when putting this programme together. The children reached out to their local community and included neighbours and family in the farm safety conversation.
They were creative in their modules by incorporating art, drama and music and, most importantly, they have made changes to their own behaviours and attitudes on the back of doing the programme.
To all the children who have taken part, you have inspired us, motivated us and allowed us to believe in the idea that our farms can become a safer workplace for all.”