Sunday, 7 February 2010

North Belfast schools project

Prof Tony Gallagher (QUB), Ruth McWilliams (Belfast Model School for Girls), Sharon Walker (Invest NI), Maeve McCambridge (Little Flower Girls School), Nelson McCausland MLA and Ciara McCann (Our Lady of Mercy), plus a large cut-out of book character Freddie the Frog!

Three North Belfast girls schools have written and published an innovative book for children promoting tourist attractions in Northern Ireland.  The colourful story book was launched at Parliament Buildings, Stormont, on Wednesday 3 February with North Belfast MLAs Nelson McCausland (DUP) and Alban Maginness (SDLP) in attendance. 

The pupils - from Belfast Model School for Girls, Our Lady of Mercy and Little Flower Girls School - worked together to create their own publishing company LeapNI, with the support of Young Enterprise NI.

They noticed a gap in the market for a story book which would appeal to children and would promote ideas for days-out in Northern Ireland. The storybook follows cartoon characters Amy, Adam and Freddie the Frog, as they visit popular attractions in each of the six counties of Northern Ireland – including Belfast Zoo, the Giant’s Causeway and Armagh Planetarium. 

This is an excellent project and I congratulate all concerned. The pupils and staff from the three schools have worked well together to make it a success and this is an excellent cross-community project through which they have learned about working with others.

Young Enterprise NI has provided close support and the girls learned valuable business skills as they established their company – LeapNI - sold shares, appointed directors, developed business and marketing plans, discussed concepts and created their product. 

The book itself is very attractive, promoting venues in all six counties of Northern Ireland, and I am sure it will be widely enjoyed. At just £3 each the book is excellent value and I have every confidence that the girls will succeed in selling their print-run of 1,000 copies. Particular thanks are due to the School of Education at Queen’s University Belfast which subsidised the printing costs. 

I note that the pupils already have plans for a follow-up edition and I wish them continuing success with this venture.

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