Theatre group is ‘opening minds to endless possibilities’

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Spring Chickens is an exciting and innovative creative arts project run by Big Telly Theatre Company in Portstewart, that is increasing creative expression and engagement amongst older people throughout Northern Ireland.

Through engaging a wide spectrum of people of all ages from pre-school to the over 90’s, it is having a positive impact on breaking down barriers, bringing people together and opening minds to endless possibilities.

The Spring Chickens project reaches out to those who are over 60, providing a number of engaging activities from their ‘Strengthening Voices’ and ‘Targeting Older Men’ programmes, which offer taster sessions and opportunities to participate in the arts to those who reside in older people’s sheltered housing/residential communities and other localities in both urban and rural settings.

Big Telly’s latest project, ‘The BOX’ and its Creative Shops Project, has brought a disused shop on the Promenade in Portstewart (as well as three other locations across NI) to life for both those older people who have been given the opportunity to perform there, as well as to the highly-engaged audiences from the local community and visitors to the area.

Spring Chickens Project Manager, Pat Morris said: “The Spring Chickens Programme continues to be incredibly successful.

“External evaluations have stated that ‘It has managed to achieve two quite distinct objectives...bringing interest and quality to the lives of older people, particularly isolated older people, and raising awareness about society’s often misguided perceptions about older people, and their role’ and these objectives continue to be key to the success of the programme.

“Spring Chicken’s work is improving community and personal well-being while bringing communities and generations closer together. It is also helping relieve the isolation so many old people suffer, and bring new friendships into their lives.”

Catherine, a Spring Chickens member added: “Having relocated from Belfast to Portstewart opportunities to meet new people and develop friendships has been difficult.

“Becoming involved with the Big Telly has brought me into contact with many people from a variety of backgrounds and cultures.

“I have established new friendships and enjoy the social interaction and good fun we have together. It has been a difficult time in my life, dealing with loss and bereavement and I can in honesty say that the weekly drama session was often a highlight, I know that some of the other members feel the same way.”