SPECIAL REPORT: From weight loss to same sex marriage - video journeys into Irish society

A video project recently completed by ’Journalism with New Media’ students from the Cork Institute of Technology provides an interesting insight into the views of Ireland's next generation on a range of issues relating to both contemporary and past Irish society.

The mini-documentaries featured below include:

- a profile of one man's battle to lose weight

- the issue of food waste in Cork and Ireland

- a behind the scenes look at student radio

- one man's fight to help wheelchair users get active

- a look at the same sex marriage issue

- the story of Glanmire GAA club's fight back after devastating flooding in the area

- a behind the scenes look at one 'animal free' circus and

- a glimpse at the burgeoning film making community in Cork

The video projects were all completed by the students themselves under the direction of course tutor, Anne Marie Green.

'Richard's Story: A journey of self-improvement' by Niamh Hayes

Meet Richard. He grew up in a small town where his parents owned and ran a shop. While he was quite an active teenager, playing a variety of sports, he of course enjoyed the novelty of living above his parents' shop and always having convenient food to hand.

Richard suffered from a back injury and this left him unable to be as active as he used to be, and although he should have adjusted his food intake to reflect this lack of activity, he continued to eat the same despite not burning off the extra energy.

The weight began to pile on Richard and as he continued to get heavier, his health was in jeopardy. He knew at this point that he had to do something about it.

This video follows Richard on his journey of self-improvement as he gets back into training and starts to eat well in order to turn his health around. He tells us about his new diet and the type of exercise he is doing now. This video also illustrates the struggles Richard has with his weight and subsequently weight-loss, which is a struggle that so many people in Ireland are dealing with.

We hear from a General Practitioner who tells us the dangers of carrying extra weight, as well as giving advice on how to shed the pounds. We hear from a health and fitness expert who tells us what types of exercises we need to be doing in order to improve our fitness. In general, a lot of advice is given to the viewer on how to boost their health.

Richard is an ordinary person with an ordinary goal. He is someone who all of us can relate to and is a great motivator.

'Cork’s got a Food Conscience' by Catherine Mooney

Food waste is an increasing problem in Ireland and like most problems it is down to an attitude.

Despite the downturn in Ireland we are still dumping tons of vegetables, which are deemed by supermarkets to be unsellable. Why? It is simply because they are not the right shape or size. I feel this reason is not justified, especially since in today’s Irish society there are so many families unable to afford good healthy food.

Again, I feel this is down to attitude - we seem to believe we are privileged and that we can easily justify such waste.

We all need to respect food, its production and consumption. We cannot plead ignorance and say we didn’t know what was happening. Climate changes’ impact on crop growth and production is creating more and more problems.

We have a responsibility to one another, our environment, economy and future generations to educate ourselves to reduce our own food waste.

From the oldest to the youngest, we all can do something to help. There are groups and organisations, such as the Cork Food Policy Council, that strive to create awareness and strategies so consumers and producers have a sustainable economy with lifelong learned skills regarding food.

This video piece portrays how Cork Food Policy Council fed 5,000 people with a tonne of vegetables, which would have otherwise been dumped into landfill. It explains the effect food waste is having on our environment and economy and suggests simple and healthier alternatives to dumping good food.

'A stepping stone or dead end – what is student radio all about?' by Stephen Neville

Radio has been a staple of Irish life for countless years. Executives draw in big name presenters who in turn draw in the listeners, the advertisers and more importantly, the money.

But beneath this level of radio, there is an underbelly which is student radio. Often not talked about, often not remembered and often not known, it is a place for radio hopefuls to learn the skills that any radio presenter would need. A place to learn and practice and work through any teething problems a bright-eyed presenter might have.

UCC 98.3FM is one such student radio station. UCC 98.3FM try and run themselves as a real commercial station but faces an uphill battle against the big boys in the form of 96FM and Red FM.

Under the management of Kieran Hurley however, the station has gone from strength to strength taking in curious volunteers and transforming them into often award winning bright young things. This video by Stephen Neville looks at UCC 98.3FM, speaking to Kieran Hurley, the station manager and some of its presenters and asks whether is a stepping stone to greater things for its volunteers, or a dead end?

'Life With No Limits' by Helena Crowley-Hayes

This documentary tells the story of an inspirational young man who having suffered a significant change of direction in life in his late teens has gone on to become a dynamic driving force within Irish Sporting Circles.

Paul grew up in Ballygarvan, outside Cork where he is married and still lives there, with his wife and kids. He was the youngest of a large family. They were very much part of the local community, owning the village shop in a tight typical GAA community.

Paul was a handy hurler and footballer. By his own admission he was always a keen sportsman with an in built determination to succeed. In 1987 he lost his leg after a motor- cycle accident.

Nothing is a big deal for him. He believes he has had some fantastic opportunities, having sailed for his country in world championships, national championship and European championships.

He has competed in the Paralympic games and has worked with the Sports Council. His aim is to make the pathway for wheelchair athletes as smooth as possible. He says he tries to promote an expectation for them.

When he was a kid, “he was expected to be fantastic and that’s what all parents want for their children”.

Now working as Sports Development officer with the Irish Wheelchair Association, an organisation that develops sport for people with disabilities he says, that from a jobs point of view “Its about as good as it gets”. He says the route his life took has probably brought him to the same place and admits himself that “he’s having a pretty good life”. Helena Crowley-Hayes spoke to him about his aims and inspirations.

'Is Ireland ready for same-sex marriage?' by Una Farrell

In 2015 the people of Ireland will vote in a referendum to decide the fate of same-sex couples.

At the moment Irish same-sex couples can enter into civil partnership which affords them a certain number of rights with regard to taxation and social welfare however there remains a large gap in the rights of a married couple and those in a civil partnership.

One of the largest rights of a married couple denied to those in a civil partnership is that of children, their adoption, guardianship and custody.

Presently there are 17 countries which have legalised same-sex marriage. Our British neighbours were the latest to change their law when the first English same-sex marriage took place in March this year and Scotland have also passed a bill allowing same-sex couples to wed. Unlike our neighbours whose government took it upon themselves to pass a bill allowing same-sex marriage, we will have a choice in the early months of 2015.

In this video I wanted to explore the various opinions the Irish people have on same- sex marriage. As we will be the ones deciding whether we will be joining the likes of France, England and Canada it is important we are aware of the facts which surround the issue. Is Ireland ready for same-sex marriage?

'Community Saves GAA Club from Ruin' by Cian Harrington

The 28th of June 2012, is a date that will not be forgotten in a hurry by the people of Glanmire. A football club made famous by names such as Lotty, McCarthy and Cussen was brought to its’ knees.

Flash flooding completely destroyed both of the clubs pitches, wrecking havoc in one of the local communities sporting centers. With over €200,000 worth of damage the club was left devastated; flood lights were destroyed, fencing was torn asunder while debris was dragged the length and breath of the pitch, however the devastation went deeper than this.

Like every GAA club, Glanmire Football club survives in the centre of the local community. Kids flock to the pitch affectionately known as “The Pike” every Friday night as a weekly pilgrimage. The local GAA club marks the identity of a Parish, its’ a Parish’s pride and glory. This cut the whole community.

Already struggling in harsh economic times, the future of the club looked as bleak as the clouds that marked the devastation. However in true underdog fashion, Glanmire Football club was far from done. This video tells the story of how a community came together to drag their GAA club of its’ knees and restore its’ past glory.

This is the story of how a love for ones GAA club can unite and bring together people in a way unlike no other. This is the story of a community saving its’ Football Club. This is Glanmire’s recovery.

'The strife of Circus Animals' by Jessica Corcoran

I decided to do my documentary on the struggles of circus animals in Ireland and ARAN’s Circus Campaign. Many Circus’s in Ireland use animals, and in a world where we have made so many advances in so many areas, its unjust to have our animal rights laws allowing for such a Victorian tradition to continue.

The social norms of entertainment have developed and there is no longer a need for people to be entertained at the expense of animals. Animals don’t have a voice and can’t tell you how they feel about being used in circuses. With circuses all around Ireland using animals such as tigers and sea lions, one has to question the morality of it, these are animals are big, wild animals who require a lot of space.

However ARAN’s Circus Campaign has been extremely successful and many counties in around Ireland have banned the use of animals in circuses, including County Cork most recently. It’s a huge step for Ireland, and it seems to be following in the footsteps of many other countries all around the world.

Hopefully this is the first big step of what to come with Animal rights laws in Ireland. Circus Vegas is completely animal free, and is an incredibly popular circus in Ireland, which goes to show the circus industry can thrive without the use of animals; this is a big step for our country, with any luck it will be the first of many circuses to take this action.

'Filmmaking in Cork: Cork Film Centre and the Making of Christmas at Dracula’s' by Daniel Kiniry

Earlier this year, the Cork Film Centre got the news that their funding will be severely cut by the Arts Council. Doing so could risk many filming ventures in the county; both in education and in filmmaking itself.

One of these filmmaking ventures is that of Christmas at Dracula’s, directed and written by Simon McKeon. The unusual cult-inspired film about a Christmas party for classic movie monsters is set to be released this Christmas.

Simon and his team give a lot of their credit to the CFC, as they rented a lot of their equipment for free from there.

This short documentary takes a look at Christmas at Dracula’s, how it was thought up, set up and the people working on the film both in front of and behind the camera. It shows how different locations all over Cork were used, how friends and connections in the Cork film scene were utilised in the production and how a movie like this can be mad with practically a micro budget.

The hope it to highlight just what an invaluable resource the Cork Film Centre is. Without its help and tutelage, filmmakers like Simon who are just on the up-and-up may never have gotten their start. Highlighting the need for the Centre may help it stay on its feet after the budget has been slashed.

It’s also good to get a much more different side to Irish cinema. A cross-genre cult film about a monster Christmas party is certainly unique for the Irish film scene!


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