The aim of our project is to provide an outdoor sensory area through our woodland trail and replace existing outdoor sports equipment. In order to achieve this, we need to raise vital funds.
Ballycraigy Primary School is celebrating its 50th year open and has proved itself as an integral part of the community. Currently the school is involved in the Shared Education Programme which promotes religious diversity and inclusion in the wider community. Sure Start hold courses within the school building weekly as does the local Church of Ireland who hold a Mum and Tots group during term time. Ballycraigy Primary School also works in partnership with Parenting NI offering support to parents within the community and surrounding area.
Ballycraigy Primary School is situated in the middle of Ballycraigy estate. This estate has long experienced socioeconomic deprivation impacted by unemployment, poor mental health, drug abuse and an increased suicide rate in the greater Antrim area.
The Primary school consists of 142 pupils, 45% of children qualify for free school meals and 46% of children are on the SEN register (social, emotional and behavioural difficulties). To cater for the number of children on the SEN register the school has a funded nurture unit affectionately known as the Bee Hive.
Given the diversity of its students, Ballycraigy Primary School PTA hopes to cater not only to all its students but to its 3 feeder nursery schools with the further development of the Woodland Trail. We are awaiting the formation of this year's school council so that the children have a say on the sensory and physical equipment that will be located along the trail.
Children have been requesting the replacement of outdoor sports equipment since the last school year. Specifically basketball hoops, football nets, basketballs, footballs, bean bags and skipping ropes. This equipment allows the children essential outdoor play and physical activity ensuring they are well on their way to achieving the government's recommended 60 minutes a day of physical activity. Regular physical activity, as research has shown, promotes mindfulness and positive mental health.
This will be a standalone, fully sustainable project with a large number of volunteers on hand to facilitate and ensure appropriate use of the sensory woodland trail.
Ballycraigy Primary School has an award winning garden and a very popular Eco club. Children are encouraged to plant, grow and eat their produce. Many of the parents attend the Eco Club's "Green Gym" which is held a number of times throughout the year ensuring that the garden is presentable and prepared for planting.
Ballycraigy Primary has a very supportive Board of Governors as well as an incredibly active PTA always available to lend a hand. The school has strong connections to two local community groups, Ballycraigy Environs Development Association and Muckamore Parish Development Association.
It is anticipated that this project will be a great success as there will be nothing like it within our town. The school intends to hold open play times throughout the year inviting members of the community to come and experience the tranquil outdoor Bee Happy Trail. This will build relations with the wider community showing that Ballycraigy Primary School is inclusive of all learning potentials.