Stepping Stones
New Lodge Arts recognised a need in the North Belfast area to provide an afterschool’s service for children struggling with Social, Emotional and Behavioural difficulties. As an arts organisation we understand the positive benefits that art can bring such as boosting self-esteem, reducing stress, enhancing problem solving and stimulating the imagination. In the past we ran taster sessions however we wanted to create more of an impact and consistency. Therefore, Stepping Stones was formed. Children aged 6 -11 years meet once a week to work with all forms of art and play games. We work with small groups of children as we want to truly want to get to know them all and lead on their individual interests and needs. The children have formed great friendships with like-minded children from other schools. We have observed that all the children attending embrace everyone’s individual personalities and allows everyone to feel included.

We have created an informal setting at the New Lodge Youth Centre that the children can relax and unwind after a hard day at school as well as having fun and without realising it, working on coping mechanisms and strategies for emotional outbursts.

Since November 2019, we have already noticed massive changes in our children, parental feedback has been fantastic and we as staff have learnt a great deal from our children. We want our children to become more confident to be able to join other after school activities such as Drama, dance, Youth Theatre etc. In such a short space of time we have watched our children flourish and grow especially over lockdown. They are truly inspiring, they make our “jobs” fun, different each day and it is a real pleasure getting to work alongside them as well as their families. If you are interested in finding out more about this programme or have a child who might benefit from the programme, please contact Susie at New Lodge Arts on 07736389968 or email susie.vint@ashtoncentre.com

North Belfast Summer Bake Off!
Over the Summer, New Lodge Arts & New Lodge Youth Centre joined forces to host the North Belfast Summer Bake Off. Over 6 weeks, we distributed over 600 ingredient packs to local families. Each week we offered a different baking challenge including Chocolate Fudge Cake, Pavlova and Profiteroles. Our eager bakers were queuing from first thing in the morning to get their packs and we were overwhelmed with the positive response we received. Here are some of the comments:

‘You are all angels! New Lodge Arts has massively lifted the spirits of little girls who were feeling that the world was happening but they weren’t part of it. Getting to participate in group activities digitally has really helped them… and me!’
‘It was incredible! Having something constant to look forward to each week has made lockdown more fun.’
It was a great activity for the kids and I to do together. I was able to incorporate some learning into it too – both numeracy and literacy – so that was an added bonus.

‘My oldest girl has benefited so much from the initiative. She had been struggling badly with anxiety (at 9 years old!) throughout the pandemic and lockdown and the bake-off did make a difference as that involved her in a much looked-forward-to activity’.

Due to the demand and interest in this programme, we plan to bring the Bake Off back at Halloween and Christmas!

Pretty Positive Pavements
In August we distributed 100 packs of chalk to local children to encourage them to get out on the streets and decorate their pavements. The project added a splash of colour to the streets. Our two fab artists Anne Quail and Anna O’Kane launched the project at New Lodge Youth Centre with their amazing chalk art.

Fun Phone Photography
We launched a new online project – Fun Phone Photography to teach people to learn how to use the camera on their phone better. Led by James from Belfast Bohemian Productions, participants were encouraged to stay away from the auto mode and find out the features of their phone camera to learn new techniques to enhance their photos. Each week, participants submit photos in several categories including Friends & Family and Mother Nature. Several photos will be selected for an online virtual exhibition and printed onto postcards.

Arts Academy
Plans are in place to get the Arts Academy weekly classes back up and running in October. We hope to bring a range of classes to the local area including Hip Hop, Ballet, Drama, Youth Theatre & Visual Art. If you would like to find out any more details, please contact Anne Delaney on 07736389968.

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