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Over 200 children from nine year 7 classes in five East Belfast Primary schools have been celebrating the completion of the Sport Changes Life Honour Roll Programme with a multi-sport and cultural event held in Avoniel Leisure Centre.
The Honour Roll Programme aims to support children who are making the transition from primary school to secondary education through sport, civic leadership and good relations themed activities. The five schools that have taken part are Elmgrove PS, Euston Street PS, St Matthews PS, Harding Memorial PS and Cregagh PS.
Sport Changes Life, which was funded by Radius Housing, used these themes to help the school children meet their potential and aimed to help reduce stress as they prepare to change schools, as this can be a difficult time. The support for the project forms part of the good relations work being delivered by Radius in partnership with the South & East Belfast Advisory Group of stakeholders and residents, through the delivery of their Good Relations Plan relative to the T:buc Shared Housing development on Ravenhill Road.
Radius currently has 12 shared housing developments across Northern Ireland. The Good Relations Plan includes ‘Bridging’ events which are delivered to the wider community to encourage a range of good relations outcomes and include the themes of Health and Wellbeing and Education and Training.
Sport Changes Life met a range of these themes and mentored the 200+ pupils through their own individual journeys, helping them to develop plans which suited their needs and abilities. It aimed to identify the potential within each pupil and channel energy in a positive way.
The 10-week course covered topics such as Anti-bullying & Staying Safe Online, Health & Well-being and Goal Setting and Cultural Awareness through respect and acceptance. The pupils from all 5 schools came together and were able to celebrate their achievements with an afternoon of sport and culture in Avoniel Leisure Centre. To mark their achievement, they were also presented with certificates to confirm their place on the Sports Changes Life Honour Roll.
The Sport Changes Life project was 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. £863,892 has been invested in the Ravenhill shared housing development and associated delivery of a five-year Good Relations Plan.
Speaking at the celebration event at Avoniel Leisure Centre, Sharon Traynor, Communities Officer at Radius Housing, said “The transfer to a new school can be a worrying time for children, and it is important that we do everything we can to support them and prepare them for this move. There are ways to help them through this, such as learning and personal growth through sport and encouraging respect and acceptance through good relations themed workshops. We are delighted to have been able to fund the roll out of the Honour Roll programme with these schools, and we have seen how these children have grown in confidence by taking part’
Alan Taggart, Programme Manager at Sport Changes Life Foundation, said “Sport Changes Life are very proud and thankful to have the opportunity to work in partnership with Radius Housing to facilitate the Honour Roll Programme with five primary schools in the East Belfast area. This programme enables us to deliver a 10-week sport led personal development programme to P7 pupils where our team of sport mentors have been able to introduce sports skills to young people. This builds confidence and improves their sense of social well-being as we navigate our way out of the pandemic. This programme has included personal development and mutual understanding (PDMU) and led on activities to address sensitive issues around good relations. These sessions focus on increasing awareness and encourages the children to recognise their own potential as well as promoting respect and empathy for others from all backgrounds.’’