Marvellous Movie Day at Heaney Homeplace

Councillor Sean Mc Peake and Marie Mc Cloy, Empower Project Manager with parents and children who attended the Empower Project Movie Day at Seamus Heaney HomePlace. Included in the photo are Rhonda Davison and her children Isla and Alexander and Kirsty Anne Takel and her son Thomas.
Councillor Sean Mc Peake and Marie Mc Cloy, Empower Project Manager with parents and children who attended the Empower Project Movie Day at Seamus Heaney HomePlace. Included in the photo are Rhonda Davison and her children Isla and Alexander and Kirsty Anne Takel and her son Thomas.

The Empower Project, in partnership with the award winning Seamus Heaney Homeplace in Bellaghy, has introduced yet another innovative activity to its already busy programme of events.

The Lottery funded project, which offers support to families of children with Autism, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia in the Mid Ulster and Antrim & Newtownabbey council areas, recently hosted a very successful movie day in the Centre’s Helicon where over 60 people attended a special screening of the popular animated film ‘Early Man’.

Marie McCloy, Empower Project Manager said she was delighted with the turnout and the positive feedback from both the children and their parents.

She said: “Families of young children with Autism Dyslexia and Dyspraxia can often find it difficult to do things as a family so we wanted to organise something that they could do together. The Helicon at the HomePlace was ideal as it provided a safe and relaxed space where they could all feel comfortable to enjoy the film.

“We worked closely with staff at the HomePlace to make sure that everyone felt welcome and were delighted that Councillor Sean McPeake, chair of Mid Ulster District Council, was able to attend and had an opportunity to meet some of the young people present to show the Council’s support for the project.”

Marie added that she hoped the weekend screening would be the first of many at the HomePlace.

“The Homeplace was an ideal venue as staff who were very aware of the needs of the children and their families were most supportive and went out of their way to make it as inclusive as possible,” she said.

“We’d like to build on the success of the inaugural movie day so we’ve asked the young people for their ideas on what the next film should be. The youngsters really enjoyed the film and their parents said it meant a lot to them able to do an activity with their children that they would normally avoid.”

Councillor McPeake said the Council recognises the challenges faced by families of children with Autism, Dyslexia and Dyspraxia in accessing events and activities to enjoy together.

“We understand that creating safe and friendly environment is key to opening up opportunities and are delighted that HomePlace has been able to work in partnership with Empower Project to stage such a successful film screening.”

The Empower Project is managed by Northern Regional College with local community group Dyslexia and Dyspraxia Support (DADS) as the lead partner. It is supported by a steering group which incorporates: Northern Regional College, Magherafelt Learning Partnership, Mid Ulster District Council, CWSAN (Cookstown & Western Shores Area Network), Moving Forward Together (MFT), Stars - Autism support group, Education Authority, Magherafelt & Cookstown Volunteer Centre, CYPSP (Children & Young People’s Strategic Partnership).

In response to demand from parents, Empower Project runs regular training programmes for parents, as well as a range of activities for young people to improve their communication and other social skills. It also works in collaboration with local schools to provide literacy and numeracy support.

For further information on courses and activities, go to www.empowernetwork.co.uk.