Northern Ireland news

Almost 1,000 pupils across Belfast are to take part in new literary programme

Clare McAllister (left) Northern Ireland residential manager at Electric Ireland, P7 pupil Leon McCartan and Claire Murray, head of development and marketing at the Lyric Theatre

ALMOST 1,000 pupils across Belfast are to take part in a new literary programme, focusing on a book written by a Co Armagh schoolgirl that explores themes of self-development and self-esteem.

The joint initiative by Electric Ireland and the Lyric Theatre will see P7 from 23 schools participate in a two-hour literacy and drama workshop.

The literacy programme will use the children's book, The Dancing Footballer, which was the winning submission in Electric Ireland's Shooting for the Stars children's writing competition to explore themes of self-development and self-esteem.

Written by Sarah Dickson, a pupil at Carrick PS in Lurgan, the book is about a young girl who danced her way to footballing success.

Following the workshops, teachers will encourage pupils to write a story between 250 to 400 words with the authors of six of the best stories having the opportunity to participate in a special workshop session with a high-profile children's author.

Facilitated by the Lyric Theatre's literacy outreach programme, it is delivered in partnership with the Goliath Trust, which aims to help address educational underachievement in Northern Ireland's most disadvantaged areas.

Clare McAllister from Electric Ireland said it is "such a meaningful project".

"The Dancing Footballer book, written by nine-year-old Sarah Dickson, deals with issues such as gender equality and inclusivity using dance and sport and spans important curriculum areas across literacy, PE and art," she said.

"It is wonderful that the book now forms the basis of the Lyric workshops and I'm excited for the stories that this project will produce, and that we are in a position to help young people understand their value and worth."

Claire Murray from the Lyric Theatre said they are delighted to be "able to collaborate on this fantastic initiative".

"The Lyric has supported the Goliath Trust for four years now through various outreach programmes, aiming to support teachers, pupils and their surrounding communities," she said.

"We are thrilled that our partnership with Electric Ireland can help add value to the work we do in the community.”

Goliath Trust board member, Lady Daphne Trimble, saw the workshops at first-hand and said: "I am sure that following this the pupils will have no difficulty in writing about a game changer in their lives.

"This programme brings literacy to life through drama and creates a buzz in the classroom - it's what learning should be about."

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