Summer play schemes a hit with the kids

By Matthew Leslie
A KIDS scheme for the school holiday set up to give children something to do during the pandemic two years ago has gone from strength to strength as it enters its third summer in a row.
Adrian McGurn, 32, from Derrygonnelly set up the scheme during the summer of 2020 to help kids bridge the gap of time lost in the classroom due to the Covid-19 pandemic which had shut schools down.
Mr McGurn, who himself works as a Primary School teacher in Abu Dhabi, wanted to give something back to the community and help the children deal with, and escape from, the pressures and isolation that the Covid lockdown brought.
The scheme was based between Derrygonelly and Belcoo and had more than 100 kids between the two venues attending them.
Another one was put on the following year, this time for teenagers before reverting back to catering for Primary School kids again this summer.
“The idea started two years ago,” says Adrian, “when the kids were locked out of school because they were shut due to the pandemic.
“So I said that I would organise a summer school/scheme during the pandemic to kind of bridge that gap where the kids had missed out on their education.
“It was a great success. it was cross-community based between Derrygonnelly and Belcoo and had more than one hundred participants between the two venues.
“Fast forward a year, the schools got their own funding for their own schemes so I decided to go another route and target teenagers. That scheme was quite similar with trips throughout the week and games such as football, rounders, dodgeball and volleyball.
“Again, that was funded by the Education Authority. As well as focusing on mental health, well-being and nutrition, we had speakers coming in to give talks and arts and crafts.
“We had our first week in Derrygonnelly and it was fantastic. We had a day out to the Share Discovery Village where we took part in raft-building and canoeing.
“We’ve also had a yoga instructor in and had a day of bowling at Johnny Rocko’s.
“It’s nice for them to be playing with their peers in the summer and building the cross-community relationships between the schools. It’s a pleasure to watch them interact and integrate with each other outside of the school setting.
“Of course this wouldn’t be possible without the great group leaders I have in place to help facilitate this and help run the projects in both centres. A massive thanks goes to our leaders Caolin, Ciara, Alex, Sinead and Stephen for facilitating the scheme which was very well received from parents and students. Thanks also goes to Frances who has been a great help behind the scenes.
With this year’s summer scheme already proving to be as successful as the ones before, Adrian is already looking ahead 12 months down the road to next year’s programme.

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