A Camphill training programme for young adults with learning disabilities is to open up its new Carrick-on-Suir training centre to local community groups in the evenings when it’s up and running and also plans to create a community garden for the people of the town.
Work is underway on finishing the construction of the Journeyman Programme’s training centre at the Camphill Community farm at Ballinagrana in Carrick-on-Suir, and alongside it will be developed the community garden.
Heather Lynch, Co-ordinator of the Journeyman Programme, said they hoped to create the community garden by late summer next year and part of their plans for it will be to run training courses in gardening, growing your own food and food preparation.
Part of a E5,000 donation the Journeyman Programme has just received from the MSD plant at Ballydine will be invested in the new community garden project, which will have its own dedicated building next to the training centre.
The MSD donation will also help fund the cost of the new training centre for the Journeyman Programme’s participants that is nearing completion.
Grangemockler based building contractor Shane Comerford of Ashcroft Construction is currently working on fitting out the interior of the centre where training in a range of arts and crafts, horticulture, life skills and personal development will be provided to the 13 young adults with learning and physical disabilities taking part in the Journeyman Programme.
The Journeyman Programme is for young adults aged between 18 and 25, who have learning or physical disabilities, and its practical curriculum is based on the Steiner Education model that focuses on learning through one’s hands.
A central part of the Programme is about giving students life skills in such areas as communicating, socialising with others, forming friendships and interacting in the wider world by, for example, learning how to go shopping and travelling safely from one destination to another. Regular social and sporting outings are organised around Carrick-on-Suir to help develop the students’ social interaction skills.
Three of the Programme’s current trainees are involved in Special Olympics sports; Eddie Ryan, a shot putter, equestrian rider Fred Sullivan and swimmer Luke Sanders. Both Eddie and Fred have represented Ireland in their respective sports at international Special Olympics championships.
The Journeyman Programme originally planned to start building the training centre back in 2008 but government funding allocated for the development was pulled in the October budget of that year as the economy went into freefall.
“We were due to sign the contract with the builder the next day. It was really overwhelming and I thought that was it, we would never be able to build it,” Heather Lynch recalled.
But fortunately it wasn’t the end of the road, and last year the Programme decided to go ahead and start building the original proposed training centre over a longer period of time using funds already raised for the project.
“About this time last year our local fundraising group, the “Friends of the Journeyman Programme Carrick-on-Suir”, who had raised more than E50,000 suggested we put the money into something and we now have this fabulous building,” Heather explained.
“We have decided to build it in three phases. The second phase will involve doing all the site works and the third phase will be to develop the Ballinagrana Community Garden.”
She said they were “absolutely delighted” with the E5000 donation from MSD, which she assured will be put to very good use.
The Journeyman Programme has also received some funding for the training centre from the government funding agency Pobal and will soon receive two grants of E20,000 from South Tipperary Co. Council and Carrick-on-Suir Town Council to assist it in completing the building.
“Once we get the training centre established we will open it up to the wider age group of people here at Ballinagrana and also community groups in the town in the evenings after the Journeyman Programme training ends at 4pm. It will be a new departure for a Camphill project,” said Heather.
She pointed out that once the training centre is up and running, they will organise an official opening ceremony and invite members of the local community to the celebration.