St Colm's pupils get creative in the kitchen as part of pioneering arts programme
PUPILS are taking part in a new pilot programme focused on bringing more creativity into the classroom.
Young people from St Colm's High School in the Colin Urban Village are among those aiming to improve their educational outcomes.
Year 8 and 9 pupils have been working 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, the Education Authority and Urban Villages Initiative.
It supports 10 post-primary schools and communities in urban village areas across Belfast and Derry, where there has previously been a history of deprivation and community tension.
A digital cookbook, produced by pupils 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, they 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.
St Colm's vice principal Adrian Walsh said the programme had given those involved the opportunity to visit St George's Market to research local, fresh produce with a view to creating healthy recipes.
"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," he said.
Year 9 pupil Katie McNally said: "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, said the pupils had made the most of the opportunity to work closely with chefs, food experts and IT professionals.
"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," she said.
Nick Livingston, Director of Strategic Development at the Arts Council said the Creative Schools Partnership programme was based on research which indicated that access to quality arts experiences in school could 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," he said.
"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."