Schools play a key role in inspiring and delivering social change, helping build a more united community, the First Minister, the Rt. Hon. Arlene Foster and Junior Minister, Megan Fearon have said.
The Ministers were speaking today as they officially opened the Blythefield Primary School Garden in Sandy Row which received £40,000 of Executive funding from its Urban Villages initiative.
The First Minister, Arlene Foster said: “It gives me great pleasure to officially open this wonderful new garden at Blythefield Primary School.
“Initiatives such as this are a great example of how an underused space has been transformed into a hub for innovative learning and a place which will inspire and bring people together. It is exactly the type of project the Northern Ireland Executive wants to support through the Urban Villages Initiative, as part of the wider Together: Building a United Community strategy.
“As this garden grows in the months and years ahead, the children of Blythefield will learn at first-hand how care, attention, hard work and patience can deliver wonderful results. I have no doubt it will have a lasting impact for the pupils and those beyond the school gates.”
The Sandy Row area is characterised by a lack of public and private green space, making the provision of this garden particularly important to local children. The rooms enable the garden to be used by more than one class at a time and provide opportunities for formal and informal education, for play and for one-to-one working.
Junior Minister, Megan Fearon said: “The local community helped identity the key priorities for the Urban Village area in South Belfast which included enhancing the area, improving health and well-being, and providing better access to facilities and activities for children and young people. The Blythefield School project meets all these and shows what can be achieved when the local community and government works together to meet local needs.
“Partnership approaches between schools and the wider community are key to our Urban Villages plans. Here in Sandy Row, the children of Blythefield and the community around it will grow along with the garden. Through Urban Villages and other Executive Programmes such as the Social Investment Fund and Together Building a United Community, providing the seeds for that positive growth and building good relations are exactly what we are striving towards.”
Notes to editors:
1. The creation of Urban Villages is a headline action within the NI Executive’s Together: Building a United Community (TBUC) Strategy
2. The Urban Villages Initiative is designed to improve good relations outcomes and develop thriving places where there has been a history of deprivation and community tension. It has three inter-connected aims, to foster positive Community Identities, to build Community Capacity, and to improve the Physical Environment.
3. The five Urban Villages areas are: Ardoyne and Greater Ballysillan (North Belfast); Colin (West Belfast); EastSide – focusing on the lower part of the Newtownards Road (East Belfast); Sandy Row, Donegall Pass and the Markets areas (South Belfast); and the Bogside, Fountain and Bishop Street (Derry~Londonderry)
4. The Strategic Frameworks present key findings and propose high level actions from a comprehensive process of information gathering, analysis and engagement. They seek to build on what is working, rather than a focus on deficits in these places. The Frameworks are intended to provide a reference point for a wide range of stakeholders in order to identify opportunities to collaborate around TBUC objectives and shared PfG outcomes and indicators.
5. Media enquiries to The Executive Office press office on 028 9037 8201. Out of office hours, please contact the duty press office via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.
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