THREE local students are hoping to win big at a nationwide competition next month.
Over a hundred projects from schools all over the country have already been submitted for this year’s PExpo 21, with judging taking place virtually on Wednesday May 5.
Among them are a number of projects from Trinity Comprehensive School in Ballymun, original hosts of PExpo in 2015 and for the two following years also.
For Aoife Geraghty now in fifth year, this is her third PExpo project. “When I was in first year, I did a project about girls in sport and then in transition year, another one on why girls drop out of sport in their mid teens”.
This time, forced to spend more time at home than usual, Geraghty was struck by the number of advertisements for diet supplements on TikTok and other social media. She decided it would be worthwhile looking into the effect of this advertising on her peers.
“Although everyone had seen the ads, not everyone felt pressurised to take them, although many felt that it was not fair to aim for the unrealistic standards the “social influencers” promote.”
Only one person of the 31 who responded to Geraghty’s questionnaire was affected negatively by the advertising.
“I got a complete rant! And I don’t know whether it was a boy or a girl because the answers were all anonymous!”.
Her conclusion? Despite the fears of many, the advertising didn’t affect a young audience, many of them self-conscious about their bodies, as badly as might be expected.
Robyn Tuohy, who collaborated with Geraghty on an earlier project, is examining the difficulties faces by sportswomen when they become pregnant.
“I’m looking at Serena Williams from tennis and Alysia Montaño, an American athlete who continued competing even when she was eight months pregnant.
When Montaño told her sponsor, Nike, she wanted to have a baby during her career, the company told her that they’d suspend her sponsorship deal and stop paying her.”
Serena Williams has also spoken of the difficulties facing female athletes when they become pregnant and the struggle they face returning to competition after giving birth.
Thebi Nkosi, another fifth year student, has taken on the controversial topic of intersex athletes, in particular the case of South Africa’s Castor Semenya.
“World Athletics came up with a ruling that women with differences in sex development would have to reduce their testosterone levels to less than 5 nmol/L if they wanted to compete.
“Yet testosterone doesn’t work the same way for men as for women.
“These are people who don’t want athletes to take drugs, yet if you’re intersex, they’re asking you to take drugs. It doesn’t make sense.”
She also make the point that we are not all born equal when it comes to our physical abilities.
“Take Michael Phelps the swimmer- he was a human fish!
“Should he have been banned because his arms were extra long?”
Nkosi has concludes that intersex women should be allowed to compete with women, since they will never reach the same standard as men.
“They were born that way – it’s not as if they’re trying to have an advantage.”
PExpo ’21 takes place on Wednesday May 5, when students will present their projects virtually to a panel of judges.
A cash prize of €250 goes to the best overall projects in junior (up to 3rd year) and senior (from 4th year) categories.
Winners in ten categories get trophies and medals.