**Coming soon - information on a Digital Story Telling project with Southend Family Resource Centre**
The community based learning course is concerned with social inclusion, active citizenship and community arts. This year it has been facilitated by the Southend Family Resource Centre Wexford with the Wexford Campus of IT Carlow. There were 24 participants on this course which ran from March to June 2011. The course aimed to engage third level art students with a group of men who have developed a community workshop in a collaborative arts and heritage project and to foster greater appreciation amongst learners of the issues and needs of their local community. The course was run in the men’s shed attached to the family resource centre in the Faythe and in the Wexford Campus School of Art and Design. Learners engaged with staff from both organisations in the delivery of lectures and workshops, boat building and design, e-learning, field work, student presentations, documentation and reflective activities.
From the perspective of the Wexford Campus School of Art and Design, this short course exceeded the original aims and objectives on many levels, the engagement of both the students and the men was clearly evident and a significant amount of time and hard work went to making the craft. The sense of collaboration and exchange with the Family Resource centre and the college was tangible and added greatly to the learner’s experience. Our students received practical hands on experience in tandem with critical discussions about community development. There was a great sense of achievement with the completion of the traditional sailing cot and the course has deepened the links between the two organisations and more importantly between the learners themselves.
From the perspective of the Southend FRC, the entire Coracle Project was an interesting and challenging but very significant project for us to be involved in. We have always aimed to work as closely and as openly with the local community as we could and to develop ways to engage with the broader local community, particularly the local men. This community’s history and tradition of self help and generations of creativity and skills based around the sea and sailing was a good starting point and held the potential as a rich source of information and heritage. While there always new challenges when new partnerships are developed, Southend FRC is satisfied that the Coracle Project Aims and Objectives were met and more was achieved and the relationships between the local men, the FRC and IT Carlow (Wexford Campus) has facilitated learning, new skills development, opened up a range of possibilities for future work and has created a beautiful piece of art that honours the proud tradition of the local community and which will enrich the local area as much as it has enriched the men, the students, the FRC and IT Carlow.
As one student wrote about participating in the course:
‘This project has certainly reignited a sense of wanting to be involved in a community again and being part of something no matter how small. Even though this project is coming to an end, community development is something that continues and grows and I would imagine gets better and better. I have a greater understanding of what being an artist is in the community, something that I didn't quite think of before even though I know there are great people doing great work all over the country’
Another learner who lives in the Faythe and works with the Resource Centre wrote:
It was a bit hard at first when we got involved because we didn’t know any of the students but over time we developed a very good working and trusting relationship with them. It was good to see us all working together in the Shed as the Coracle piece was developed and while it was a new experience for all of us, we got a lot out of it. The help and support we got from the students, Southend FRC and IT Carlow (Wexford Campus) was very important and I think they learned a lot from us.
Although the course is complete the exchange and collaboration between all the partners continues to evolve and deepen. At present a short film about the project is being edited.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Coracle Project, at the opening of the Community Shed, Minister Brendan Howlin TD, said that the Coracle Project, involving as it did the local community, IT Carlow and Southend FRC was practical evidence of foresight and an excellent example of partnership and the Coracle Project would enhance and develop the community’s capacity to maintain its deep rooted tradition and history. He further congratulated the third year art students from IT Carlow (Wexford Campus) for their role in participating with the local men to create and document such an outstanding traditional sailing cot. (Wexford Echo and People Newspapers)
The Deputy Lord Mayor of Wexford, Cllr George Lawlor, congratulated all involved in the Coracle Project and the tremendous work that had been done (Wexford Echo and People Newspapers)
Cllr Paddy Nolan, Wexford Borough Council, spoke of the importance of the Southend Family Resource Centre to the local community and congratulated the men, the students IT Carlow(Wexford Campus) and all involved in the Coracle Project. (Wexford Echo and People Newspapers)
To see examples of documentation of the process of working in the shed please see the following links
If you would like to learn more about this project and discuss it in more detail in relation to course content, course design, etc please contact either Brian Hand lecturer in art and design at the Wexford Campus (It Carlow) or Colm O Muiri Co-Ordinator South End Family Resource Centre Wexford.