A special school in Belfast today launched a project to support young people with disabilities in mainstream education throughout Northern Ireland.
Fleming Fulton School - the first special school in Northern Ireland - officially launched the Linked Independent Living and Advice Centre (Lilac) project, created with a grant of £497,976 from the Big Lottery Fund's Change UR Future programme.
The project offers support to young people with physical disabilities, aged two to 19, who have chosen to attend mainstream education.
It will work closely with staff, parents and the young people to improve their life experiences and encourage independence.
There are an estimated 1,700 physically disabled young people attending schools in Northern Ireland and the project will reach out to as many of them as possible, offering them improved choice and opportunities.
The Lilac team will initially visit schools free of charge to provide advice, guidance and help with resources to staff working with young people.
As the project develops, an Independent Living Centre is planned for the Fleming Fulton site. The project also hopes to purchase Smart and Assistive technologies which promote and support independent living.
Christopher Meneilly (19) is a former pupil of Fleming Fulton who is physically disabled. With the help of the staff, he passed his GCSEs and is now studying at Belfast Metropolitan College.
Chris, who was a member of the Lilac working group, said: "There are young people out there in mainstream education that will benefit massively from this project. The skills and knowledge of the staff at Fleming Fulton really helped me to realise my full potential."