Keith McCann is Project Coordinator with Regenerate, a peace building group based in Rectory Park, Portadown.

Regenerate focuses on community cohesion, community safety and education, working with people, communities and other community groups. Regenerate builds on what is strong, and not what is wrong. Their works includes supporting community groups, providing training to increase employability and capacity, educational support for young people and a community café to reduce social isolation. There are also community focus forums which gives the community a voice.

Keith attended the Play Shaper training programme, delivered by PlayBoard NI. Play Shaper is a programme of professional play development and training which aims to help a range of stakeholders who directly or indirectly influence play, understand the importance of play and leisure and their role in creating play-friendly and child friendly communities. Play Shaper is a core element of the Play Matters project, funded through the EITP and delivered by PlayBoard in collaboration with the Department of Education’s Children and Young People’s Strategy Team.

Discussing the training Keith said, “I attended four, two-hour Play Shaper sessions. I was interested in exploring the benefits of play, and how Regenerate could support longer term social change through play. Through the sessions I learned how play whilst natural for children and young people, can also be useful for building team work, resilience and improve the lives of people and society as a whole.

“Through the programme I got the opportunity to be part of a pilot project to gather data about play and train community play facilitators within the areas we operate, with the aim of improving community life, embracing support from Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council.

“PlayBoard provided invaluable support to help us progress to the pilot stage, and I also availed of the networking opportunities, arranging a good practice visit which will take place shortly. I have been promoting the benefits of the Play Shaper programme widely and shared my experiences at a seminar held recently at Parliament Buildings. I have no hesitation in recommending this programme to other people.”

For more information on the Play Shaper programme go to www.playboard.org/what-we-do/play-matters-project/

Pictured are Denise McVeigh, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council; Angie McCabe, PlayBoard NI; Keith McCann, Regenerate and Trevor Currans, Education Authority at the Play Shaper seminar.