Cúirt an Rí in Clonmel is a 41 unit estate with 96 children. This is an inspiring community which experienced a common issue on their estate and made a decision to get active and involved in becoming part of a solution.
The majority of the residents were transferred to Cúirt an Rí from the most marginalised areas of Clonmel. Soon after moving in to their new homes antisocial behaviour amongst teenagers began to emerge on the estate. A key weakness identified was that teenagers were bored and had nothing to do. Clúid invested significant time and resources in building relationships with parents, children and teenagers to find a solution. Our goal was not to impose a sense of community on residents but to encourage and enable residents to take ownership and to create their own community.
After consultation, a core group of teenagers emerged in Cúirt an Rí (‘the Jump Start Crew’!) with their own vision:
The Jump Start Crew, aged between 15–22, were determined to take the bull by the horns and turn their community around. Encouraged by Clúid, they set up an alternative youth initiative for teenagers and children called Art for Us.
Art for Us became an appealing programme of street art projects for younger people. Through popular art and a strong pedagogical approach, Art for Us aims to channel their energy into something positive for the whole community. The project was awarded €7,100 through An Léargas as part of the European Youth in Action Programme and artist Jessica Carson became involved to support the creative work for the project. Projects completed in the last year have included a choreography programme on the estate and a Banksy-style mural on the walls of Clonmel library and Denis Burke Park.
Art for Us has been a fun and popular approach to engaging young people in improving their community and feeling proud of their home. The project has helped to solve a major threat to this neighbourhood and has led to the development of a thriving community for Cúirt an Rí.
The young people of Cúirt an Rí have been empowered to take ownership of their neighbourhood. The sense of completion of the projects in their own estate and around the town reinforced drive, commitment and determination to make Cúirt an Rí a great place to live.
The project has provided a purpose for the young people of Cúirt an Rí. For example, the larger mural on the park walls was completed over the Easter holidays and relieved the boredom which once may have led to anti-social behaviour.
Through Art for Us, children and teenagers on the estate have developed interpersonal, social and communication skills. The project has encouraged the nurturing of self-confident, self-reliant individuals with values that support the development of a community.
The Jump Start Crew developed critical thinking and teamwork skills, as well as ability to work with children and other members of the community. They will receive the highly accredited European Youth Pass Certification for completion of the programme.
The associated press coverage which followed led to a great sense of pride. This was further strengthened when the FAI caught word and offered free soccer coaching to the children during the month of May. Children are eager to get involved in promoting a positive image of their estate around Clonmel. This has led to positive relationships outside the estate and with this an improved perception of the estate. Residents are now proud of where they live and this is really evident in how immaculate they keep their estate.
The project has brought younger residents on the estate together, promoting friendships, camaraderie, and respect for each other. Relationships between residents are positive and anti-social behaviour complaints have dramatically reduced. Numerous tenants commented that last summer was “the best summer ever”!