Over 150 young people from the Coleraine area will have the opportunity to develop their computing and IT skills through a new University of Ulster initiative launched by Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland last week.
The IM HAPPY (IMproving Hopes, Aspirations, Potential and Prospects in the Youth) project – funded by a grant of £360,738 from the Department for Social Development’s Neighbourhood Renewal scheme – seeks to promote achievement as a means of improving the self-esteem, self-belief and self-confidence of a diverse range of learners.
The programme will run until March 2015 and will be targeted principally at schools and community groups in two Coleraine regions – Coleraine Churchland (Killowen and Heights) and Coleraine East (Ballysally and Millburn) – which are among the most deprived areas in Northern Ireland.
Launching the project at the University’s Coleraine campus, Minister McCausland said: “This project not only hopes to make residents more proficient and skilled in computing creating the potential for employment, but to also raise aspirations to consider furthereducation as an alternative to unemployment. “Having the University of Ulster involved in delivering such a project directly into neighbourhood renewal areas is an excellent partnership and I hope we can build on this in the future for the benefit of other local communities.”
All activities will be delivered by a team from the School of Computing and Information Engineering, who will support and mentor learners to develop their professional and vocational skills using the most up-to-date tools and technologies. As each participant progresses, it is anticipated that they will become increasingly confident in their own abilities and this will provide the impetus for them to realise their full potential.
Students’ achievements will be formally recognised in through a University module accreditation and at an awards ceremony in spring 2015.
Martin McKinney, Head of the School of Computing and Information Engineering: “While the primary focus is on youth, the IM HAPPY project will not be age-restricted. It is a genuine aspiration that this project will help produce a better educated local workforce which in turn may attract investment to the area.”