Choir teams up with students for mental health project

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Students from two local schools have partnered with a popular Derry choir to challenge the stigma around mental health and suicide.

Pupils from Lisneal College and St Cecilia’s College have been working with members of the Allegri choir on a project called ‘Changing Keys’ with the intention of breaking down barriers around mental health by using the power of music and singing.

Later this month. the students will join with choir members for a special one off performance. The workshops have been run under the guidance of Allegri Musical Director Maurice Kelly.

Choir chairperson Margaret Kelly told the ‘Journal:’ “We’ve been working with the students over the past few months and we think this is a really important project. Mental health is a huge problem for many of our young people and suicide in particular continues to be major issue in our town. I think both schools quite rightly saw the value of this project which has the best interests of the young people at its core.

“We know of the benefits that singing and music can bring and we know that it brings such great joy to people. Over the course of this project we’ve watched just how much the young people have gotten from it. We know that music can be used as an alternative therapy. We were delighted to be working with the Western Trust on this too, Where we as a choir were able to bring the song and music elements, they were able to offer their expertise on the mental health issues.”

Margaret added: “The workshops, in partnership with the Western Health and Social Care Trust’s ‘One Stop Shop’ provided information sessions around mental health and emotional wellbeing as well as incorporating the benefits of choral music. This project has brought a lot of positive changes to the lives of all those involved. It has improved health and social wellbeing, developed confidence and improved the skills and choral ability of all three choirs. This cross community initiative, uses choral singing as a stress reliever, increasing feelings of wellbeing and encouraging creativity. An uplifting choral concert which will take place on Friday, June 24 at 8pm in First Derry Presbyterian Church, Upper Magazine Street.

The project is funded by the Acorn Fund under the Community Foundation NI.