Minister for Communities Paul Givan, MLA and Minister for Education Peter Weir, MLA today officially opened the new Community Garden at Ashfield Boys' High School in East Belfast as part of a wider volunteering in schools programme.
The Department for Communities (DfC) provided £33,000 to Ashfield Boys' High School to support the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) who participated in the ‘Building Stronger Communities through Volunteering’ project.
Officially opening the Community Garden, Minister Givan said: “This excellent new facility has clearly demonstrated how keen parents are to volunteer within their child’s school in order to learn more about the school, more about their child’s education and to develop their own skills.
“Transforming what was an abandoned area of the school into a horticulture centre has enabled the school to offer a new BTec course in this subject for its sixth form pupils as well as students from Mitchell House co-educational special school. I would like to thank the volunteers for the difference they have made at the school and for the opportunities they have created for their children and others who will use this community garden."
The Minister continued: “I commend everyone involved for their contribution and for creating an excellent asset for Ashfield Boys' High School – this is a clear example of how local communities become engaged, develop and improve through volunteering.”
Education Minister Peter Weir said: “As Minister for Education it is one of the most rewarding elements of the job to be able to visit schools and see first-hand the new and innovative projects they are implementing to enhance the educational experience of the pupils.
“Schemes such as this community garden take learning from a text book and make it real and tangible for pupils, giving them the opportunity to get hands-on experience of improving their local environment. I know that a lot of hard work and enthusiasm has been required to establish this area and I wish to acknowledge the work of everyone involved and in particular the Parent Teacher Association NI who have lead on the delivery of the project.”
Notes to editors:
- The Ashfield Boys' PTA was set up through the ‘Building Stronger Communities through Volunteering in Schools’ project run by PTA NI and funded by DfC through its Volunteering Innovation Programme. PTA NI has supported the parents of children at four schools in Belfast and Carrickfergus – Ashfield Boys' High School, St Vincent de Paul Primary School, Woodlawn Primary School and Breda Academy
- The objectives of the project are to build a more inclusive community of volunteers, improving children’s lives, strengthening communities and fostering civic engagement through volunteering
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