Retired astronaut Chris Hadfield has told Irish teenagers to dream big and aim for the stars.
The Canadian-born astronaut, who shot to global fame thanks in part to his tweets from the International Space Station, was among several inspirational figures who delivered special video messages to some 340 transition year students who attended an enterprise conference in West Cork yesterday.
“Have a long-term dream,” Commander Hadfield said.
“Enjoy the small things along the way but keep your goal in mind. It doesn’t matter whether you’re from a small town in Canada or West Cork, you can make your dream a reality.”
His message was played as the students attended the enterprise conference in Inchydoney Lodge and Spa, hosted by the West Cork Local Enterprise Office.
The “Leaders on Our Level” conference was held for students taking part in the West Cork Schools Enterprise Programme which encourages students to set up and run their own mini enterprises.
Speakers at the conference included Michael Hanley, the chief executive officer of the Local Enterprise Office Cork North and West; Bríd Ryan of Queen B Athletics; Kevin Buckley of Spearline Labs; Peter Nagle of Bitcove; and performance coach and fitness instructor Niall O’Callaghan.
Mr Buckley urged the students to believe in themselves.
“Vision, belief and strength – believe in it and work through it – travel and see the world. Faraway hills are green but home is where the heart is,” he said.
Mr Nagle also told the students that they are not the leaders of tomorrow — they are the leaders today.
Video messages from Taoiseach Enda Kenny; polar explorer and motivational speaker Mark Pollock; broadcasters Henry McKean and journalist Brendan O’Connor were also played, in which they outlined the advice they would give their 16-year-old selves.
Mr McKean gave the teens some dating advice.
“Tell that girl or guy that you like them – go for it. Don’t do law because your mum or dad told you to; travel; be polite; say please and thank you; follow your heart; and smile!” he said.
Mr O’Connor urged students to not let people put them down.
“Ask the stupid questions because the answers to those questions can lead you to amazing places,” he said.
The Student Enterprise programme, which was established in 2004, exposes second-level students to all the realities and challenges faced by entrepreneurs in every stage of business development from market research and production to sales and marketing.
Each school will compete with their mini enterprises in the regional finals next February where one team will be chosen to represent West Cork and their school at the national finals in Croke Park.
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