A festival to showcase the talents, skills and interests of young people in Bushmills is being held this weekend.
Bushmills Young People’s Festival, which runs on Saturday 14th June from 11am to 2pm in the Bushmills Parish Centre, aims to tackle educational underachievement and negative perceptions of young people.
During the event the Bushmills Education Charter will also be launched and the most ‘young people-friendly’ trader will be presented with an award. The event is being hosted by Sarah Travers.
Highlighting the background to the event, Karin Eyben, Community Engagement Worker explained: “At June 2012, 30% of young people from Bushmills had achieved 5 GCSES (Grades A*-C). Bushmills’ record of educational underachievement is increasingly worrying and affecting not only young people but also impacting on local community and economic regeneration.
“The Bushmills Education Project (BEP) is about addressing the exceptionally high number of young people from Bushmills who leave school without basic qualifications through building relationships with parents & carers, young people, schools and the wider community.
“The project is led by Bushmills Residents Environmental Forum (BREF) with a range of other partners including local education providers, parents & carers and young people. The project is supported by the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership (CYPSP) and the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.”
Addressing the issue of Bushmills being a culture of low aspirations, he added: “Although Bushmills has a strategic position in tourism and the local economy, many young people leave education with no or low qualifications and at best can aim at low-wage jobs.
“This has an impact on young people’s engagement with community and economic regeneration. The absence of parental confidence and engagement with complex education system and the absence of 3G connectivity affects young people’s equal access to educational opportunities.
“Therefore in order to address the negative perceptions towards young people in Bushmills, seen as underachievers and ‘a problem’, BEP has organised the Young People’s Festival where the Bushmills Education Charter will be launched and the most ‘young people-friendly’ trader will be presented with an award.”