Destined is a community group which has been part of Derry life for well over a decade.
The Great James Street based support group for adults with learning disabilities not only works to empower its members but if offers them the chance to achieve qualifications.
Destined’s most recent event saw many of its member qualify in the administering of first aid at a course held in An Culturlann last month.
Twenty-two year-old, Conor O’Donnell has been a Destined member for two years and said completing the first aid course was one of the most enjoyable things he has done this year.
“People think that just because you have learning disabilities you can’t help but that’s not true at all,” said Conor.
“We all got our certificates which means we are all able to give someone first aid.”
Conor stops talking in mid-sentence. He begins to think and stroke his chin with his right index finger and thumb.
“They taught us a wee trick of how to remember how to give first aid - what is it again?
“Oh, I remember, it goes like this - ‘Please sir, slap my face. Bend my leg, and roll me over,’” says Conor smiling.
It’s a surreal couple of sentences but when Conor asks fellow Destined member, Roisin Doherty, to help him convey what he means it all makes sense.
The two simple phrases which Conor has memorised by heart could save someone’s life.
Conor lies on his back on the ground and recites the two sentences again.
In a fluid movement, Roisin puts Conor into the recovery position by putting his left arm out in front of him and his right arm curls up so that his hand is resting on his cheek. Rosin then rolls Conor onto his left side.
Everyone else in the room start to applaud and Conor and Roisin return to their seats.
“Although what we learned is very serious we did have a lot of fun at the course,” admitted Roisin.
“Not only did we learn a new skill but we also worked as teams.”
Slaine Stannett is from the Waterside and is one of the newest members of Destined.
Slaine said he never imagined he would have been able to take part in a first aid course, never mind complete one and explained that since joining Destined his life has improved greatly.
“Before I started coming here I would have kept myself to myself but since coming here I have met many new people and made a few new friends.
“Learning how to give someone first aid was great but it’s just another example of how great Destined are for people like me.
“Destined has helped me to improve my confidence and if someone had have said to me a year ago I would be sitting here talking to you in front of all of these people I would have thought they were mad,” said Slaine laughing.
Angela McCafferty is one of the leaders at Destined. Angela was a volunteer with the group for years before she was offered the chance to take up permanent employment.
“I can’t tell you how great it is to work with such an amazing bunch of people,” said Angela smiling.
“They give me hell in here and let me away with nothing but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Since the group completed their first aid course we have members whose responsibility it is to make sure all of our first aid kits are properly stocked and if they ever use anything they have to replace it.
“Honestly, the skill within Destined is top class. We have a lad here called Leo Gallagher and when Leo is not busy working with the rest of the group, he can be found drawing all of kinds of things.”
At this, Leo introduces himself at the bottom of the table and comes forward and begins to draw his favourite thing in the world - a ninja.
“I really like drawing - it’s my favourite thing in the world to do.
“I also like coming to Destined because I get to see all of my friends. There’s a great group here and we all get on very well.
“I loved learning about first aid because it means if anything happens when I am at home I can lend a hand,” he said happily.
For more information about Destined contact the group at the Great James Street office on 028 7136 2424