A group of young people from the city have been celebrating the completion of their exciting ‘Words on Walls’ project at the Verbal Arts Centre.
A celebration event was held on Thursday to mark the success of the six month project carried out as part of the Verbal Arts Centre’s Reading Rooms programme in partnership with Extern Youth Support in the North West.
Twenty young people were involved in the inspirational shared reading project with a trained volunteer every week which culminated in the creation of a vibrant large-scale temporary graffiti art piece facilitated by Urban Vizualz.
Andrea Doran, Director of Programming and Learning at the Verbal Arts Centre, said: “Some of the feedback we have got from our young people is that the Verbal Arts Centre is a safe space, somewhere they had never been in before and felt relaxed.
“They felt it was somewhere they can sit down and read; they may not do that at home or at school but they felt they can come to the Verbal Arts Centre and do it with their peers through the Reading Rooms project.”
David Alderdice of the British Council, which funded the project under the Youth in Action programme, praised the Verbal Arts Centre and Extern for their foresight and said it was “fantastic” to meet the participants and see the finished product.
Explaining that the British Council works mainly overseas in 110 countries around the world, he told the young people that their participation in the project was potentially life-changing.
Brian Murray, Programme Manager with Extern, said the organisation’s mission was to help improve people’s lives and make communities safer. Extern has been delivering a range of support services in the city for families and young people between the ages of 8 and 17 for the past 30 years.
The Reading Rooms programme was the first opportunity for Extern to go into partnership with the Verbal Arts Centre and looked forward to it continuing.
Mr Murray said: “The project itself is about engaging with literature. Some of the young people might not have had a good experience in the school environment. The creative approach of the Reading Rooms programme speaks for itself. Young people vote with their feet and continue to attend.”
He said there had been a marked improvement in the reading skills of some of the young people since engaging with the project as well as their self-confidence. The opportunity to take part in the graffiti art piece, enabled the older groups in particular to incorporate many of the words that were coming up during their conversations at the Reading Rooms sessions.
Congratulating the young people especially for their participation, Mr Murray said: “All in all it has been a tremendous success.”
Also praising everyone involved with the project, the Mayor, Cllr. Brenda Stevenson, said: “Words resonate and this impressive, vibrant graffiti art piece is a living, breathing example of the outcome of this project.
“I have dedicated my year as Mayor to the children and young people of the city and that includes you. Well done to each and every one of you; you should be very proud of yourselves. Remember, skills are life-long and to use them well.”