Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

£500k boost for learning disability project

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.

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