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Funding injection for youth arts project is music to the ears

Tuesday 31st March 2020 at 10am 0 Comments

Pictured are: Project Sparks leaders Owen Coyle, Sarah-Jane Murray and Courtney Hamilton, project manager Eamonn McCarron and Gilly Campbell from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland with pupils from Greenhaw Primary School. Image: Pictured are: Project Sparks leaders Owen Coyle, Sarah-Jane Murray and Courtney Hamilton, project manager Eamonn McCarron and Gilly Campbell from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland with pupils from Greenhaw Primary School.

Project Sparks in Derry/Londonderry is celebrating the continuation of its landmark dance and music programme, thanks to a recent cash injection from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s National Lottery funds. The ambitious programme, developed by Liberty Consortium, was founded with the belief that the best teachers are those who know what it’s like to struggle.

Since 2017, Project Sparks has trained 18 musically talented disabled young people (called ‘Leaders’) to teach music and dance to primary-school children alongside the project’s staff. Recognising that music is a powerful vehicle to maximise children’s learning right across the school curriculum, Project Sparks has impacted over 800 children across the region.

Over the past two years, the group has received almost £10,000 from the Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme. They say that The Arts Council’s investment helped them leverage funding from other sources such as Paul Hamlyn Foundation, which has enabled them to teach a further 250 children who have, until now, had limited creative opportunities.

Educator and Project Sparks manager Eamonn McCarron, comments;

“This work is transformative for the young Leaders and the children whom they teach. For the first time, there is an opportunity for disabled artists to use their resilience and empathy to capture children’s creative potential and broaden their beliefs about disability. This latest injection of funding from the Arts Council has helped Leaders to secure a bright future in sharing their talents with children who need it most. Blending the Leaders’ youthful camaraderie with instruction from qualified teachers allows us to create a dynamic learning environment, and none of this would have been possible without the training we have been able to provide.”

Gilly Campbell, Head of Community Arts and Education, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council’s Small Grants Programme is supporting arts projects in communities across Northern Ireland, creating more opportunities for people to engage with the arts, from grassroots level projects to professional productions. With a relatively small injection of funding, it is amazing to see how much can be achieved and this project is a brilliant example of that.

“Project Sparks has changed the lives of 18 young people for the better. Equipping them with new life skills, helping them build their self-esteem and confidence, and skilling them up as performers and teachers.”

For more information on Project Sparks, visit: facebook.com/projectsparksuk

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