The atmosphere is electric at Strathfoyle youth centre, where the preparations are in full swing for the St. Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival taking place on Tuesday March 17.
The theme for this year’s Carnival Parade is, ‘Kaleidoscope of Culture’ and the celebrations bring together community groups and voluntary organisations along with carnival groups right across the city. 35 children ranging from ages seven to sixteen years have put their creative thinking caps on and come up with a futuristic robot theme for their big appearance in the St. Patrick’s Day Carnival Parade in Derry.
The centre is now overrun with cardboard cut outs and paint covered people, as the costumes are prepared for the showcase event of this year’s festival extravaganza. Strathfoyle Youth worker, Catriona Coyle, said they couldn’t wait to participate in one of the city’s most popular events.
“The Strathfoyle Youth Centre has been involved with the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations over a number of years previously. Last year however, was our first involvement after a four or five year gap. It was an amazing experience for everyone involved, one of our children even said that it was the best day of their life. It was on the basis of this success that we decided to enter this year as I know that our young people would get such enjoyment from it.”
Part of Catriona’s role as a youth worker is to ensure there is a fun element to the Strathfoyle youth centre’s core programme, and events such as the St. Patrick’s Day Carnival play a big part. The centre works with a variety of age groups from primary level up to twenty five years providing a hub where everyone can have fun and feel inspired as they are encouraged to achieve full potential.
“The costumes are unbelievable, and all created by each child involved,” she Catriona reveals. “When the concept of science was put to the children, they themselves came up with the idea of creating robots for their parade participation. We have been running a number of workshops over the past few weeks which have taught the children a lot in terms of creativity, planning and development. It has given the children a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes and see what happens during the creative process.
“Seeing what the young people have created just shows what can be achieved with some direction and encouragement. Watching them enjoying the creative process makes it all worthwhile as you get to see the sense of achievement each child has after they see their idea take shape. It is truly a joy for all of us here to watch and be a part of. We have had major help throughout the past few weeks from our volunteers. The involvement of all our members of staff, including organisers Kerry O’Donnell and Paula Mullen, has also made the experience more enjoyable and provided great encouragement for all of the children.”
This year’s St Patrick’s programme is jam packed with family fun activities, including the Mayor’s Family Fun Day and the Big Dig in the Guildhall Square. The Carnival Parade will commence on its usual route leaving Derry City Council Car Park at 2.30pm.
For more information on all events taking place during the St. Patrick’s Day Spring Carnival, go to www.derrycity.gov.uk/stpatricksday.