Hundreds of children of all abilities have come together to showcase their talents and mingle together at the Trip To The Trail 2015 festival at the Playtrail.
A succession of talented young musicians graced the Live Stage at the Ampitheatre, while a second Acoustic Stage tent was also set up on site.
The colourful outdoor event also featured drum circles, face painting, outdoor cafes and trails to keep the estimated 400 children who took part entertained.
The rain held off for the duration of Friday’s festival, which is designed to bring young people with disabilities and those without together and to share skills, build bonds and change attitudes.
The large scale event was organised by the The Playtrail, the Nerve Centre and the Tuned In project, which helps empower young people with disabilities by equipping them with, and advancing, their musical, social and other skills.
Ardnashee School and College also supported the event along with Children In Need, National Lottery, Youth First, and Youth Transaction Project.
Speaking at the festival, one of the organisers , Gavin Melly, Inclusion Officer at The Playtrail, said there was a great buzz about the place.
“The idea is this week is Learning Disability week and I am the Inclusion Officer here at the Playtrail, and between ourselves, Tuned In and the Nerve Centre the idea is to bring as many young people together with or without disabilities.
“It is about raising awareness, promoting inclusion and breaking down them barriers and we are showcasing young people with or without disabilities playing across our Acoustic Stage and Our Live Stage as well.
“It’s about embracing that and showcasing the talent that out city has.
“It’s also part of Music City as well. We have 400 students from across six schools across the city attending.”
Also speaking at the event along Racecourse Road on Friday, Phil Conn project manager at Tuned In said:
“I think in the past people with learning disabilities were always nearly feared by the community and hidden away. Gone are those days thankfully and now we are at a stage where young people with disabilities and young people without disabilities can come together and enjoy music in a festival atmosphere together.
We have proven that today. If you take a look around the site here it is unbelievable- there is music going on, open deck DJing, are drum circles, acoustic stage, graffiti walls, arts and it’s just brilliant to see everybody enjoying themselves and interacting together.”
Performers on the band stage included Kashmere Krows, Shoot the Messenger, Docs, Lost Avenue, Riot Upstairs and Tuned In DJs.
The Acoustic Stage meanwhile showcased the talents of Cahal O’Connell, Annie Doherty, Rebecca Mulhern and the Tuned In Crew among others.
One of those who took to the stage was Jason Welsh, a student from the Tuned In project.
Jason said he was delighted to get the chance to showcase his talents as a singer and drummer, and said he has grown in confidence about performing in public:
“It’s great, it’s fantastic. I like showing people my talents. I sing, drum and play percussion.”
He said that Tuned In has helped calm his nervousness about performing.
“If I was to play a gig in Guildhall Square I would never be nervous or shy,” Jason said.
In the two years since the Tuned In Project opened its doors in Derry, it has helped transform the lives and prospects of numerous local young people with disabilities.
Over that period, it has successfully organised and staged a series of major creative events and concerts.
This Spring saw the teenagers, staff and volunteers reach another milestone with the launch of their own community radio station from the studios of their Springtown base
Tuned In is funded by the National Lottery’s Big Lottery Programme.
It operates on a four-day week, and also runs a Youth Drop-In on a Thursday evening where the young people come in and run their own disco.
Tuned In have partnered with several organisations across Derry and the north west to stage events and run a succession of programmes and initiatives, with the young people last Christmas teaming up with youths from Rosemount Resource Centre to package together food parcels for those in need.