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Moor area residents complete cross community healthy ageing project

02 December 2020
A PEACE IV Project allowing local people from different backgrounds to learn more about each other's culture has come to a successful conclusion.
The Healthy Ageing One Community Project was co-ordinated by the Bogside and Brandywell Health Forum and was part of Derry City and Strabane District Council's 'One Community' programme.
It was supported by the European Union's PEACE IV Programme and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body under the Building Positive Relations Theme of the PEACE IV Programme.
The project targeted older people from Protestant and Catholic communities and engaged them in a series of events where they learnt about each other's cultures and about cultural traditions from members of ethnic communities who live here.
Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Councillor Brian Tierney, congratulated all those involved in the project's successful delivery.
"The Healthy Ageing One Community project was hugely successful in its aim to increase the level of cross community contact between people from different cultural, community and religious backgrounds in the Moor area," he said.
"While some of the latter activities were curtailed due to the restrictions to reduce the spread of Covid 19, the group enjoyed a varied and informative programme that allowed them to learn more about the background of those who they live alongside.
"Although the project has now completed I am sure the positive connections and friendships that developed during the last two years will continue."
This was a healthy ageing project with a focus on older people and those with disabilities and was delivered with local partners including the Triax Neighbourhood Management Team, Old Library Trust, Fountain 50+, Newgate Arts and Culture, North West Migrants Forum, RathMor 50+, Bishop Street Community Centre and Creggan Country Park.
The project had a wide and diverse range of activities and events, including an inter-generational MOT check in May 2019 where participants were given the opportunity to access immediate health checks and expert advice re healthy lifestyle choices.
In July 2019 the group visited the Seamus Heaney Homeplace where they learned about the famous poet's upbringing and works. 
This was followed in the Autumn by an international food and cultural event, an ethnic dance event and at Christmas by a Bollywood Christmas event. 
In March 2020 there was a celebration of St Patrick's Day with a cultural event.
Unfortunately due to COVID restrictions and the vulnerability of the participants, the final concluding event scheduled for July 2020 was cancelled.
The project was a resounding success with many residents of the Fountain and Bogside and Brandywell making new connections and new friendships.
There was much positive feedback from the participants on how much they enjoyed learning about various ethnic cultures and how that in many cases it had changed their views on other cultures.
Marie, an older resident from the Bogside, commented: "I always felt that the cultures of Indian people and Chinese people were strange without really knowing much about them," she said.
"Meeting these people on the programme, chatting to them and seeing the demonstrations really opened my eyes and I realised dancing and music is all about joy no matter what the culture is."
The participants learnt about Chinese, Indian and Uyghur's culture through question and answer sessions and demonstrations of dance and music.
There were also discussions on the different cultures in the North of Ireland with many of the participants explaining their own cultures and traditions. 
The visit to the Seamus Heaney Homeplace was very educational for many of the group as their knowledge of the poet was very limited or nil.
The success of the programme was such that organisers were inundated with enquiries as to when the next programme would be starting.