Covid-19 creative writing project aimed to improve mental health

St. Mary’s College in Derry was the venue this week for the launch of a new book featuring the writing of children, teenagers and adults penned during the Covid-19 pandemic.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 29th April 2022, 10:07 am

The Creative Writing Project was the brainchild of Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank Community Partnership librarian Elga Logue and was funded by the Neighbourhood Health Improvement Project.

The initiative aimed to reach out to families and improve the mental health and well-being of the local community during the closure of schools and public places.

Speaking at this week’s launch, Min McCann, manager, Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank Community Partnership, said: ‘This initiative aimed to help improve the mental health and wellbeing of local residents through engagement, as well as helping address and respond to feelings of loneliness and isolation as a direct result of lockdown and Covid 19 restrictions.

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St. Eithne's PS principal Terence McDowell with pupils David Flanagan and Aoife O’Reilly who had stories published in the ‘Creative Writing Project’ book.

“We also wanted to embrace the ‘fun’ element of the project by reaching out to adults, teenagers and children who really enjoy creative writing.”

Brendan McGinn, Principal, St. Mary’s College, said: ‘This was an excellent initiative and an ideal platform for our pupils and, indeed, all pupils in the area to record their feelings and memories of Covid, especially the lockdowns. Sincere thanks to Min and, indeed, the Ballymagroarty Hazelbank Community Partnership for reaching out to and working with the schools and congratulations to all the participants and winners.”

Sinead O’Connor, Head of English at St. Mary’s who was heavily involved in the project, added: “It was a privilege for St. Mary’s English Department to be involved with this very special Creative Writing Project.

“We had just returned to school after the second lockdown and this project gave our pupils an imaginative outlet to explore their feelings about ‘community’ and their experiences of lockdown. Our pupils are delighted that they are now published authors!”

Mrs. Elga Logue (on left), Community Librarian, pictured at Tuesday’s book launch with Min McCann, manager, BHCP, and Lauren Curran, Health Development Worker, BHCP.

Elga Logue thanked all those who contributed to the publication.

“I’d like to thank Brendan McGinn, Principal, St. Mary’s College, Sinead O’Connor, Head of English, St. Mary’s, Terence McDowell, Principal, St. Eithne’s Primary School, and the Neighbourhood Health Improvement Project (NHIP) for funding the Creative Writing Project.

‘A special word of praise to Min McCann, Manager, and Lauren Curran, Health Development Officer, Ballymagroarty and Hazelbank Community Partnership for their help throughout the course of the programme.”

Throughout the Creative Writing Project, all submissions received were also published virtually via Facebook and, at the conclusion of the initiative, all submissions were collated for the purpose of producing a hardback publication as a commemorative keepsake and legacy for posterity.

Community Librarian Elga Logue pictured with, from left, St. Eithne’s PS pupils Aoife O’Reilly and David Flanagan, and, on right, Sophie Organ and Rori Fitzpatrick, St Mary's College.

All participants received a free novel for taking part in the project.

Group pictured at St. Mary’s College for the ‘Creative Writing Project’ book launch, funded by the Ballymagroarty Hazelbank Community Partnership. From left are Terence McDowell, Principal, St. Eithne’s PS, Lauren Curran, Health Development Worker, BHCP, Elga Logue, Community Librarian, Min McCann, manager, BHCP, Sinead O’Connor, Head of English, St. Mary’s College and Brendan McGinn, principal, St. Mary’s College. (Photos: Jim McCafferty Photography)