A new initiative ‘The Dragon from the Lagan’ which aims to bring an interactive learning experience to a wider demographic of young children in the greater Belfast area has been launched today by W5, Northern Ireland’s Science and Discovery Centre and Sure Start.
Sure Start supports parents with children aged under four years old, living in the 25 per cent most disadvantaged areas in Northern Ireland.
The programme received a Social Innovation NI Seed Fund award, funded by The Community Foundation for Northern Ireland and The Big Lottery Fund through The Building Change Trust. It will support 100 families from Sure Start schemes in East and West Belfast to access the W5 on the Glider free of charge.
Families on the programme will participate in science-focused workshops in Sure Start, supported by the team from W5 and receive their own copy of a specially commissioned book produced by local author and illustrator Blair Bailie titled ‘The Dragon from the Lagan Goes to W5’ to take home.
Sure Start families were invited to the launch of the programme at W5 where they heard a reading of the book and embarked on a guided tour of the science and discovery centre.
The initiative is part of the ongoing access and engagement strategy of the Odyssey Trust, the charitable organisation responsible for the management and development of the Odyssey site including The SSE Arena Belfast, W5 and the Stena Line Belfast Giants Ice Hockey Team.
Wendy Langham, Head of Social Affairs at Odyssey Trust, said:
“The Trust and W5 are always looking at new and creative ways to support wider public engagement in the enhanced learning opportunities we have on offer. We believe that this initiative, in which we have been delighted to partner with Sure Start, will play a role in breaking down some of the barriers which stand in the way of those wishing to visit W5 and engage with STEM subjects from a young age.
“By demonstrating the easy connectivity from the east to west of the city on the Glider, supporting access to our facilities and igniting children’s interest in science through the publication of ‘The Dragon from the Lagan Goes to W5’ we hope that more children and families will choose to embark on their own personal journey of adventure and discovery in the future.”
The Dragon from the Lagan is available to purchase at the W5 shop. For every book purchased, a book will be donated by W5 to a Sure Start family.