A project showcasing the artistic and musical talents of young people with a learning disability has been awarded almost half a million pounds from the Big Lottery Fund.
Something Special secured £480,290 from the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Out: Empowering Young People programme, which supports young people most at risk in Northern Ireland, including those with learning disabilities.
The organisation will use the money to develop a training and employment programme for young people with a disability aged between 14 and 20, using music and the arts to help them gain qualifications.
Something Special will set up a social economy company from its Eglinton base and the young people will organise performance events ranging from DJ/club nights to concerts and arts festivals.
Programme chair Denise White said: “Music can have a great impact on a young person with a learning disability.
“They often lack self-confidence, they feel excluded from the achievements of their peers in school and community, and have little social life.
“When they are involved in DJ-ing or any other innovative music courses they are filled with determination and self-confidence.”
Denise said the performance and event management aspect of the project would help change public perception of learning disability, which is often very negative.