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Peter Pan Lyric Theatre

Local students open new chapter in their educational journey

Author Sheena Wilkinson speaks to boys from Edmund Rice College Author Sheena Wilkinson speaks to boys from Edmund Rice College
By Evan Short

SCHOOLCHILDREN across North Belfast met up at the Belfast Harbour Office to mark the completion of a reading scheme developed to foster reading and creative writing skills.

Backed by Belfast Harbour, the Teenage Author Project is a BookTrust NI initiative that saw free books distributed across 200 schools.

The books – written by local author Sheena Wilkinson – were delivered to schools along with instructions on how to access an online platform that enabled pupils to carry out reviews while interacting with the author. In addition, pupils were also challenged to take part in a creative writing project which was then judged by Sheena.

The 12-week project concluded with two events at the Belfast Harbour Office on Tuesday past, at which Sheena spoke to the pupils about her inspiration for writing, along with signing copies of her book and announcing the winner of the creative writing project.

Sheena Wilkinson said she enjoyed having the opportunity to work with the young people.

“It’s always a pleasure to work with BookTrust and I’m thrilled to be part of this project at Belfast Harbour,” said Sheena. “‘Name Upon Name’ takes a new look at a contentious area of our history, so I’m delighted that so many young readers are having the chance to read and think about it. I’ve enjoyed meeting them all and am thrilled they were all so engaged and inspired by the project.”

Liz Canning, National Development Manager with the BookTrust, said it was a worthwhile scheme.

“Encouraging children to read for pleasure by sharing stories helps to make reading fun as well as aiding educational development, social skills and emotional growth,” she said.

“Author events such as these go a long way to inspiring a generation of readers. We want to encourage young people from across Belfast to read, write and engage with their creative side while enjoying the benefits that come from literature.”

Jenni Barkley, Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager with Belfast Harbour, said literacy was an important part of a child’s education and they were happy to back the event.

“Belfast Harbour is delighted to be involved with the ‘Teenage Author Project’ as BookTrust provides such a vital resource for so many children and young people. Belfast Harbour is committed to supporting the provision and support of educational development for our local communities, which was also seen through our ‘Babies Need Books’ partnership also with BookTrust. BookTrust is the largest reading-focused charity in the UK and their continuous work helps to dramatically improve the educational outcome, well-being and social mobility of children.”

Belfast Harbour is one of Ireland’s main transport hubs and recently embarked on a building project to regenerate the North Belfast docks area. One brand new office block – City Quays 1 – opened in 2015 and is now fully let. City Quays 2 is currently under construction and is expected to be completed in the summer.


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