On Wednesday 10th April, the Limerick Learning Neighbourhoods was launched by the Limerick Community Education Network (LCEN) during the Limerick Lifelong Learning Festival week in the Abundant Life Centre, Henry Street.
This initiative was brought to life following a workshop and study visits held last year by the LCEN and was inspired by a desire to develop learning neighbourhood initiatives in local areas across the city. The neighbourhoods are bringing local groups, residents, businesses and clubs together to promote and showcase the different forms of learning in their area; including both formal and non-formal learning. The theme for Learning Neighbourhoods this year is Who we are is where we are from.
Learning Neighbourhoods aims to benefit residents by taking the learning city concept to the neighbourhood level. The programme aims to assist local education networks and organisations to showcase and develop lifelong learning opportunities. The Learning Neighbourhood concept was developed in Cork over the past number of years. Denis Barrett, Cork Learning City Coordinator, formally launched the initiative for Limerick. He gave his warm congratulations to the LCEN and their partners for launching not just one but four Learning Neighbourhoods in Limerick!
Speaking at the launch of Learning Neighbourhood, Helen Flanagan, Chair LCEN said;
“We see learning neighbourhoods as an extension of our work by including everyone from the neighbourhood, businesses, groups and local people, as all kinds of learning takes place in all neighbourhoods”
Catherine Aylmer, Development Worker with LCEN welcomed the guests to the event. As well as guests from the communities and local agencies in Limerick, there were national and international guests in attendance from Learning Cities from Belfast, Cork, Derry, Dublin and Espoo (Finland) and representatives from the UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning.
To start the afternoon’s programme, Sing out with Strings from Le Cheile Primary School, in collaboration with UL Chamber Orchestra, greeted the audience with a wonderful performance. Helen Flanagan, Chairperson of LCEN presented on the background to the project. The spacious and innovative venue of the Abundant Life Centre allowed St Mary’s, the Northside, the Southside, and the City Centre Learning Neighbourhoods to present their work and the progress they have made for this wonderful project. Just some of the highlights included a performance from the St. Mary’s Men's Shed Bodhrán players, the Northside Living Out Loud Youth Group singers Thomas Maloney and Shannon Kerrigan, and a video giving a snapshot of learning in the communities. There was also a unique Learning Neighbourhoods poem recited by Clare Dollard for the Southside; and Linda Hall from the Hunt Museum introduced the collaborative work of all the partners who provide outreach learning opportunities in the city centre.
An art competition to design a new Limerick Learning Neighbourhood logo was held in Primary Schools in the four neighbourhoods, thus involving the children in the launch of Limerick Learning Neighbourhoods. Three finalists (Aengus Birmingham, Layla Browne and Leon Daly) had the great privilege of joining Limerick artist and course leader from Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board (LCETB), Jayne Foley, on stage at the launch to receive their prizes. Triona Lynch of the Limerick and Clare Education and Training Board presented the first prize of a trip to Kilfinane Outdoor Education Centre for the class of the winning pupil; to the delight of the overall winner Leon Daly, who was watched on by his proud parents. To celebrate the launch Limerick Youth Centre presented a cake designed by one of their bakers, Tameka Bell, which portrayed the winning Learning Neighbourhoods logo on top!