The world’s fastest every Paralympian, Jason Smyth, and the former world champion boxer Barry McGuigan have hailed a Derry-based programme aimed at helping young people with learning disabilities get into training and employment.
The Active Inclusion Project, based at the 4Rs Recycling Workshop, is a European Social Fund and Department of Employment and Learning funded Project, that aims to enable young people to develop the appropriate skills and experience required for them to overcome barriers to work and develop interpersonal skills.
On Friday, August 26, Deputy Mayor Jim McKeever joined local councillors, MLAs, representatives from funding bodies, Active Inclusion staff, participants and parents to launch the exciting new local project.
Active Inclusion currently provides support for young people with a wide range of conditions including Down’s Syndrome, Autism, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well as special educational needs.
Participants can access a range of support, activities and accredited training including: OCN Employability; OCN Healthy Living; OCN Basic Construction Skills; Urban Visuals; Confidence and Self-esteem programmes; 1-1 Key-work; Supported Work Placement; Peer Support.
All participants have a person centred plan that is tailored to their individual needs.
This plan is developed by the young person with the support of their key worker.
Richie McCrory, team leader at the project, said: “In its first year Active Inclusion has seen steady progress working closely with schools, colleges, statutory and community agencies to develop effective referral pathways for participants.
“We have improved our service with the addition of additional training programmes and have made significant improvements to our premises with the support of Derry City and Strabane District Council.
“This year we will endeavour to build on year one successes and continually improve our service to ensure that our participant’s needs are being met.”
Jason Smyth double Gold Paralympic Medalist, is among those endorsing the project.
“My apologies that I wasn’t able to make it today to the launch of the Active Inclusion Project I wish I could be there in person but I hope this message find you all well,” he said.
“I want to congratulate you all and wish all the young people the very best of luck and I have no doubt you will have plenty of success.
“I look forward to hearing all about it in the near future.”
Another celebrity endorsement came from former boxing world champion, ‘The Clones Cyclone’ who latterly has also achieved fame as the promoter of current world champion, Carl Frampton.
“As you launch the Active Inclusion Project, we at Cyclone Promotions wish you all the success, to what sounds like a great project,” said Mr McGuigan.
“This new initiative will undoubtedly benefit everyone involved in the project. Self-belief and moving forward is key to a successful future. For you guys to get this opportunity, is fantastic.
“Many boxers throughout the world have had to overcome lots of barriers to be where they are today.
“Lots of hard work and dedication in the long run shows great benefits.
“Due to our busy schedule at Cyclone Promotions we are unfortunately unable to attend your launch.
“Our current World Champion Northern Ireland’s own Carl Frampton MBE sends his best wishes and is taking some well-earned time off after winning the World Featherweight Title in July.
“Carl is an advocate of breaking down barriers and believing in working together to achieve great things.
“I and my son Shane have always been strong in our beliefs that we work together and be stronger together.
“Good luck and ‘Keep Punching.’”