Over five thousand people in Ireland die each year from heart attack, and another two thousand die from stroke. Now, in an effort to promote healthy living and encourage young people to look after their cardiac health, a team of DCU students have established the first college society in Ireland to be officially partnered with the Irish Heart Foundation, titled the DCU Irish Heart Society.
Chairperson and founder of the society, Nichelle Gabie, was inspired to create the society as she believes it is very easy to pick up unhealthy lifestyle habits while in college, with various food and alcohol promotions designed to entice students, and extortionate gym prices not feasible with a student’s budget, making it harder for students to join gyms and concentrate on cardio exercises.
Gabie told The College View that college students “genuinely do want to take care of themselves, and their hearts, but it’s difficult,” adding that the ultimate goal of the society is to “promote a healthy lifestyle and show young people that heart disease, blood disorders, and strokes can be reduced.”
The society will hold events throughout the year, with the aim of raising both money and awareness. The money that will be raised is much needed, as the Irish Heart Foundation is 92 percent funded by public donations. The fundraising events are intended to be as enjoyable as possible, as Gabie points out “everybody sees charity as something serious, I want people to do something about their heart health, but in a fun way. At the same time we’re also raising money for charity.”
Planned events include a fast-paced, cross campus treasure hunt, a group hike that will be sure to get hearts pumping, and a proposed comedy night in semester two with an appearance from internet sensation MC Fabu D, for some well earned comic relief. The society also plans to collaborate with other healthy living focused societies, and has already been sponsored by two restaurants in Dublin 2 whose ethos is rooted in healthy eating, in an effort to provide exclusive benefits for their members.
The team also plans to tackle something that is of increasing importance for DCU societies since the DCU Incorporation in 2014; involving the other campuses. They will attempt this by “allocating a position on the committee for a representative from St Patrick’s campus,” event manager for this new society, Larry Ghenta, explains. They also aspire to integrate these campuses in various ways, such as hosting parts of the aforementioned treasure hunt on the picturesque All Hallows campus.
The Irish Heart Foundation’s achievements include being instrumental in the introduction of the smoking ban in 2004, and being advocates of the Face, Arms, Speech, Time (FAST) stroke awareness campaign, among many others. Their long term goals include reducing the increasing levels of obesity in the Irish population, and to lessen the coronary heart disease mortality rate by 1 percent per 100,000 people in Ireland each year.
The DCU Irish Heart Society aims to assist with these objectives throughout the coming year, by both raising money, and spreading awareness among students.
Photo Credit: Laura Horan