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Student parents are happy campers

Published: 24th March 2017

Katriona O’Sullivan’s son was seven when she entered Trinity as a mature student studying psychology. So she is very familiar with the challenges facing student parents.

Katriona, who is now a lecturer in Trinity as well as working in TAP (Trinity Access Programme), says that school holidays, especially when they’re out of sync with college timetables – like mid-term and Easter - are a particular pinch point.

“Lectures are still on during school mid-term,” says Katriona, “so you have to find someone to mind your kids. For student parents, who are often poor enough to begin with, it can be a really difficult time.”

This February mid-term, thanks to the help of Trinity Sport, for 19 student parents childcare wasn’t an issue. Katriona and student parent officer Carly Bailey combined their funding to subsidise places on the Trinity Sport kids’ mid-term camp, thereby ensuring student parents didn’t need to miss vital lectures.

Katriona raised over €2,000 for completing a half marathon last year while the Equality Fund, via the student parent officer, made a contribution of €1,000. 

“The camp was a huge success,” according to Katriona, “the parents were delighted with it.” So much so that there will be something similar on offer during Easter. 

After that the funds will be depleted but Katriona and Carly are determined to keep the idea going.

“I’ve arranged another fundraising event in May. We’ll be having a hair and nails day in Goldsmith Hall where it will cost €10 to get your hair blow-dried and get a manicure. I’m also planning on running another half marathon this year.”

One mother who availed of the mid-term camp was Erica Fleming who says her daughter Emily “had so much fun” at the camp.

“For lone parents our resources are extremely limited, which is a difficult hurdle to overcome when you're studying in college - every class that you are absent for sets you back and you're trying to play catch up.

“The fact that the camp is on again at Easter is a bonus for me as a single mother. My child is kept busy all day, doing fun activities like swimming and rock climbing - I am blessed to have been given a place for Emily.”

*To find out more about options for student parents email Katriona directly on osullk14@tcd.ie.
**Trinity Sport’s Easter kids’ camps takes place from Apr 10-13 and Apr 18-21.