Coordinators of a cross community project in Limavady that has brought together almost 100 young people are hoping funding for the initiative will be renewed.
Glens Community Association introduced the Developing Relationship In Vulnerable Environments (DRIVE) project 18 months ago. Funded by DSD, the project provided a host of diversionary activities for children from neighbourhood renewal areas including the Glens, Coolessan and Hospital Lane estates.
When it started, approximately 30 children turned up but, this week, close to 100 children aged between five and 13 have taken part.
Project co-ordinator, Tina McCloskey, said the Association had identified a gap in provision of activities for that age group. Devising a programme including a variety of topics - from healthy eating, swimming, relationships - Ms McCloskey said the project has had a trememdous impact on participants. She says children from different communities attending different schools have come together and socialised in ways they likely never would have before. She said it has also helped lower anti social behaviour in the neighbourhood renewal areas.
“It has definitely been worthwhile and showed the children that while they may attend different schools, or live in different areas, they are really just all the same. They’ve learned how to mix and be part of a team. Even things like having a swimming lessons, not only have they learned a key life skill, but a lot of the parents would not be able to afford swimming lessons,” said Mrs McCloskey.
Project officer, Kevin Friel said he has witnessed children grow in confidence and self esteem during
“It means they are not sitting at home playing games, or hanging around the streets. They’re outdoors, they’re being fit and healthy, and they’re mixing with other kids. Everyone hopes the funding will be renewed because it really is a worthwhile project,” said Mr Friel.
Volunteer Pauline McGonigal agrees. She has loved being a part of
“You see the children become more settled, learning how to share and work as part of a team. It brings children who live in different areas together. It’s definitely a worthwhile project and everyone hopes it can continue.”
Shannon Mullan, aged 11, attends Termoncanice PS. She has loved every minute of the project and says it has built her confidence and allowed her to make new friends.
Thomas Palmer, aged nine, said he has become a better swimmer and made new friends. Sisters, Shannon (11) and Sorcha (13) Hegarty, agreed it was a great way to meet new friends and learn new skills and build their confidence. Maddison Christie, who attends Drumachose PS, said she learned to become more patient and be a good team player. She praised the leaders and volunteers.
Ms McCloskey said the success of the programme is down to the children, their parents, leaders and volunteers. She said the decision about funding renewal is expected on March 31.
“The kids would be lost without it, and if funding isn’t renewed it would be a tragedy,” said Ms McCloskey. “The parents love it because they know where their children are after school, and they know they are safe.”