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Young Scallywags Pull the Strings in Strabane

Niall Blee, Volunteer & Mentoring Coordinator at Include Youth; Chantelle, Amy & Steven, participants on the Give & Take Scheme; Ronan Boyle, Youth Employability Worker at Include Youth; & Paul McNulty from Scallywags Puppets.
Niall Blee, Volunteer & Mentoring Coordinator at Include Youth; Chantelle, Amy & Steven, participants on the Give & Take Scheme; Ronan Boyle, Youth Employability Worker at Include Youth; & Paul McNulty from Scallywags Puppets.

THREE young people transformed into master puppeteers for a day as they showcased their very own 'scallywag puppet' show to a group of primary school pupils from Strabane.

Overall eight young people on Include Youth's Give and Take Scheme were involved in the design, build, scriptwriting, sound and lighting, recording of voiceovers and puppeteer workshops over a three month period. On Tuesday March 11, Chantelle Parfitt, Steven Kerr and Amy Kane on behalf of the young people involved performed their 30 minute puppet show to a group of Primary 4 pupils from St Mary's Primary School.

The show, which tells the story of a bully, was based on some experiences of young people involved with the Give and Take Scheme, who felt it important to also explore what might be going on for a bully to make them act out in such a negative way.

Chantelle (18), a participant on the Give and Take Scheme in Omagh and whose character 'Foxy Cool' narrated the show, said:

"The biggest message we wanted to get across to the children watching the show was that if you are experiencing any kind of bullying it is really important to talk to someone you trust. I didn't have positive experiences at school, but did have a teacher I could always talk to when something went wrong.
"This project has really helped me grow in confidence and learn loads of new skills that might help me in the future as I aim for a job working with children. Being involved in this and getting to showcase it to primary school children has made me really happy," said Chantelle.

However not all the young people on the Give and Take Scheme were initially as enthusiastic as Chantelle about the project. Steven, 21, involved with the Give and Take Scheme in Derry, was reluctant to get involved at first. He said:

"At the start I just stood in the background and let the others get on with it. I just wasn't fussed on doing a puppet show, but as the weeks went on I found myself building the theatre, painting the backdrop for the different scenes, doing the voices for various characters and just getting involved in every possible part. I quickly started to realise there is so much work to do in just putting on one show and I found it all really enjoyable. The final rehearsal was my biggest highlight as that's when I started to see it all coming together and looking really good."

The young people were supported throughout the process by Paul McNulty, Director of Scallywags Puppets in Strabane.

"This show was all the young people's own work, their stories, ideas, efforts and how they wanted it all to look and sound," said Paul.
"I gave them guidance and the tools and they give me a great sense of pride watching it all come together. It really has been a pleasure working with this group of young people and I hope they'll all take the new skills and confidence they've gained onto whatever it is they do next."

18-year-old Amy, who was puppeteer for the 'mum', 'school Principal' and the 'bully's sidekick', quickly got the hang of pulling the right strings at the right time.

"Once you practice a few times it starts to get easy to remember which puppet you're moving," said Amy.
"This whole thing from start to finish was really good craic. For me it was a really good way to learn without necessarily being stuck in the classroom all the time. Hopefully the primary school children got as much out of it as we did."

Include Youth's Give and Take Scheme supports young people aged 16 to 21 to improve their employability and increase in self-esteem and confidence. All young people involved in the Scheme need education, employment and training so projects such as this provide them with opportunities to learn new skills outside of their normal settings. The Give and Take Scheme in the Western Trust area has offices in Omagh and Derry.


Young scallywags pull the strings in Strabane from IncludeYouth on Vimeo.

If you would like to get in touch with Scallywags Puppets contact Paul on paul@scallywagpuppets.com or call 028 7188 0880.

ENDS

MEDIA ENQUIRIES: For more information contact Sharon Whittaker, Communications Officer at Include Youth, on 028 9031 1007 or email sharon@includeyouth.org

Notes to editors:

  • Include Youth's Give and Take Scheme is based throughout Northern Ireland, supporting 150 vulnerable or disadvantaged young people with employability at any one time;
  • The Give and Take Scheme is supported by the European Social Fund (ESF) and Big Lottery NI;
  • For more photos vist our Flickr.