Details of three days of free swimming sessions open to all residents Derry & Strabane along with special activity camps for children over Easter holidays have been unveiled.
The special free events in the city and district will be held to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, with further free events expected in July to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.
The initiative was proposed by Mayor, Sinn Fein Councillor Elisha McCallion last month and was unanimously backed by councillors.
News of the initiative has also proved extremely popular among local people.
At the March meeting of Derry City & Strabane District Council’s Health and Community at the Guildhall on Thursday, it was confirmed that free sports camps for 7 to 16-year-olds will be delivered on three consecutive days from March 30 until April 1 at three different venues.
The free camps, with 450 spaces in total, will take place at Foyle Arena on March 30, Templemore on March 31 and Melvin Sports Complex, Strabane on April 1.
Each of the camps will run from 10am until 1pm.
Free swimming sessions will also be available on the same days from 2pm to 5pm at Foyle Arena and Templemore Sports Complex. Swim sessions in Strabane will be available in Riversdale Leisure Centre.
Sessions will last 45 minutes, and booking in advance for these sessions is essential.
All activities will have to be booked online at: www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mayors-family-free-activity-programme-tickets-22504469474.
The Committee was told that Derry City & Strabane District Council’s own inhouse team of Active Communities Coaches will help deliver the free activity programmes, to help offset coaching costs for the leisure sites.
Mayor McCallion will use £1,600 from her own budget to pay for facility hire and the employment of casual coaches to help support the delivery of the Easter programmes.
During the meeting, UUP Councillor Derek Hussey took issue with where the funding was coming from.
Colr. Hussey questioned whether the funding should instead be coming from the council because it was the council who had endorsed it, and said that taking it from the Mayoral pot may set a precedent for the current Mayor’s successor, who will likely be in place for the Somme commemorations in July.
“Are we then saying to the next Mayor, ‘Sorry, part of your budget is already allocated?’”
A Council officer responded that there would not be any intent to impact on any budget coming into the new year cycle post April 1.
Dates and details of the July activities will be confirmed at a later date.