August saw Newtownabbey Borough Council holding their first ever Eco Summer Scheme with Monkstown Community Association and Whiteabbey Community Group. The scheme ran for a week from 13th August, ending in a family fun day for groups, members and the public from both the communities.
Over the past year Newtownabbey Borough Council has begun to open up more access points through the borough to the Newtownabbey Way. The Eco Summer Scheme aimed to improve cross community relationships and allow the children to have a joint space along the walk way where they could meet to learn about wildlife and get involved in outdoor activities. Margaret King, one of the community leaders involved in the project said ‘It’s great to have a shared space to allow kids of different religions and backgrounds to come together and have some fun.’
Each day, the young explorers walked to the camp in the meadows to get involved in lots of fun activities including learning about tracking mammals using their footprints, mini beast hunts and building a bug hotel. The children also learnt about recycling and waste through making rubbish sculptures with local artist Janet Crymble, as well as understanding the outside world through a talk with Karl Hamilton from Eco Mantella and some live exotic animals.
Rosie Irwin, Trainee Biodiversity Officer said ‘It’s brilliant that the kids from both communities came out to explore the walk way and the amazing variety of wildlife that can be found there. I think it’s vital that the local children in the area actively use this green space not just for health and education reasons, but so it can continue to be protected and respected by families and future generations.’
Newtownabbey Eco summer scheme was funded by IFI (International Fund for Ireland) and Newtownabbey Borough Council.