St Colm’s students get creative in the kitchen as part of pioneering arts programme
St Colm’s High School in the Colin Urban Village area is one of ten schools taking part in a new pilot programme focused on bringing more creativity into the classroom, in a bid to improve educational outcomes for pupils.
Students from year 8 and 9 have been working over the last number of weeks with a professional chef and arts organisation Wheelworks to develop healthy meal plans and produce an online cookbook.
The project is part of a £120,000 Creative Schools Partnership programme, jointly funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funds, Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative, supporting 10 post-primary schools and communities in Urban Village areas across Belfast and Derry~Londonderry, where there has previously been a history of deprivation and community tension.
A digital cookbook, produced by the students at St Colm’s, will be made available to the wider school community, with step by step instructions on creating healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes at home. Working alongside professional artists from Wheelworks, the students have been learning graphic design, desktop publishing, photography and filming skills to develop the online resource. All the meals included are nutritionally balanced, affordable and use simple, everyday ingredients.
Adrian Walsh, Vice Principal of St Colm’s High School, explained
“The programme has given the girls the opportunity to visit St George’s Market to research local, fresh produce with a view to creating healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes that can be made from scratch at home. In addition, the girls have been able to develop their skills in video editing and desktop publishing, but more importantly the programme links to our School Development Plan where our priorities are to raise confidence, self-esteem and promote pupil mental health and wellbeing.”
Year 9 student, Katie McNally, explained what the project has meant to her:
“I’ve really enjoyed making healthy and delicious meals with all my friends. I think this project has taught me to be prepared and to be more confident.”
Linsey Farrell, Director of the Urban Villages Initiative in the Executive Office said:
“The pupils have made the most of the opportunity to work closely with professional chefs, food experts and IT professionals. It has clearly been an experience they have both enjoyed and learned from. I congratulate the pupils from year 8 and 9 in St. Colm’s High School that participated and their teachers for their assistance and support.
“The £52,000 funding which The Executive Office provided through Urban Villages Initiative is clearly making a positive difference which will extend beyond the gates of St. Colm’s. The pupils are a credit to their school and their families and I wish them all continued success for the future.”
Nick Livingston, Director of Strategic Development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:
“The Creative Schools Partnership programme is based on research which indicates that access to quality arts experiences in school can improve all aspects of learning. These include better engagement and attendance levels, improving results in other school subjects, increasing confidence and self-motivation, and promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.
“The pupils at St Colm’s are clearly really benefitting from the project. Working with professional artists they’ve been given an opportunity to explore their creativity while developing transferable life skills which they can take forward into many other aspects of their learning.”
The project is set to conclude at the end of June when the students involved will host a launch event for their parents, where they will showcase the online cookbook and present some of the meals included.