80 children in Year 7 from St Mary's and Newcastle Primary schools are learning important life skills and boosting their confidence at a 10-week programme funded by Clanmil Housing.
The 'Honour Roll Schools Programme' is being delivered by US and NI-based charity Sport Changes Life with support from Clanmil.
It incorporates a multi-sport programme with inspirational workshop discussions to help with the transition from primary to secondary school.
Each weekly session lasts for 90 minutes and uses sport to connect with young people, focussing on different topics that equip them for life in secondary school.
Workshop topics include: hopes and fears, bullying, staying safe online, healthy lifestyles, goal setting, health and wellbeing and more.
An important part of the programme is encouraging an understanding of diversity and good relations and this is done through the theme of Olympic sports.
Philip Whyte, Community Cohesion Officer for Clanmil said:
"We are delighted to support this important programme which will help these young people learn new skills and develop confidence as they prepare to move from primary to secondary school. Clanmil is committed to working with people of all ages and from all backgrounds in the Newcastle community. Initiatives like this one are part of our ongoing community engagement and outreach work as we continue to promote Clanmil's shared housing development at the former Mourne Observer site on Castlewellan Road."
Aimee O'Higgins, who is from Newcastle, is a Sports Mentor with Sport Changes Life and delivers programmes for young people throughout Northern Ireland.
She described how the workshops have been going so far:
"It is fantastic to be working with Clanmil to deliver the Honour Roll Programme in St Mary's and Newcastle Primary. I can already see how the levels of confidence have really grown among the year 7s taking part, which is so rewarding for us. In the workshops the young people learn team-building skills through a variety of sports and have a chance to open up in the group discussions, sharing their hopes and fears about the transition to 'big' school, as well as having fun with their peers."
Clanmil's site at Castlewellan Road is a new development of 11 three-bedroom family homes. It is being developed as part of 'Housing for All', the Department for Communities and Northern Ireland Housing Executive's Shared Housing Programme, and it forms part of the Programme for Government.
Clanmil is in the process of setting up an Advisory Group of stakeholders who will advise and support the development of a Good Relations Plan for the shared development and wider communities. The Sports Changes Life programme is one of the initiatives being delivered as part of the promotion stage of the plan.
The Castlewellan Road development is supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive's 'Housing for All' Shared Housing Programme. The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive's commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society. Almost £900,000 has been invested in the Castlewellan Road shared housing development and the promotion of the associated one-year Good Relations Plan.
Clanmil Housing currently has five shared housing developments across Northern Ireland and is promoting a further three.
The Castlewellan Road Good Relations Plan will include 'Bridging' events which are delivered to the wider community to encourage a range of good relations outcomes which include Health and Wellbeing, Education and Training.
For information about the Together: Building a United Community please visit:
The Executive Office - Together: Building a United Community https://www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/articles/about-together-building-united-community-tbuc
For more information about the Shared Housing Programme please visit:
Department for Communities - Shared Housing Programme https://www.communities-ni.gov.uk/articles/shared-housing-programme