|Mary McEvoy with Dan O’ Connor, development manager with Kerry Mental Health Association, in Ballyduff on March 14th. Photo by Oskars Krastins.
|A village in North Kerry has won an unique prize, courtesy of North East Kerry Development working with an inter-agency committee.
Ballyduff won a programme to become a ‘Community of Excellence’ in promoting mental health awareness and well-being. It involves bringing as much training, talks and fun events to the village as possible, all tailored to the village’s needs and requests.
The one-year pilot programme was launched in style by actress and author Mary McEvoy on March 14th and, in a show of support on the night, every one of the 140 seats in Ballyduff Community Centre was occupied.
“On the night, Mary spoke about her own experiences of depression,” reported Lorraine Bowler of NEKD. “She told Ballyduff how lucky they were to have this project, saying if she had this kind of support when she was younger the sky would have been the limit for her.”
Mary’s book ‘How the Light Gets In’ describes her own struggles.
In the short time since the launch the village has held three more events while others are in the pipeline.
Ballyduff won the unusual prize after villages in North Kerry were asked to apply and compete with each other. They had to say how they thought their community would benefit from the kind of programme on offer.
A new local group now develops ideas suggested by the local community and they are aiming for “a community where all ages come together to support each other as we build on our ability to become more resilient in challenging times by continuing to learn and to grow.”
NEKD say, that if the pilot proves successful, similar projects may be rolled out in villages across North Kerry and possibly nationwide.
“The project is about people striving for a more connected society and living life as happily as we can,” says Lorraine “We would hope other Local development companies around the country might take this up in the future.”
The Institute of Technology Tralee (ITT) is helping to monitor and evaluate the project as it unfolds, while former trainer to the Cork Senior Hurling Team, Jerry Wallace, is lending his support. He currently trains the Ballyduff hurlers.
At the launch night, information stands were staffed by folks from: Kerry Mental Health Association, Console, the Openarms Project, Pieta House, Living Links, Buds FRC, the HSE, the Samaritans, Kerry Travellers Development Group, the Social Health and Education Project, North East Kerry Development (NEKD) and a host of other agencies and organisations eager to be involved.
Since the launch, Ballyduff has organised three more events and it plans to run personal development courses, a mindfulness workshop, a ‘Mind Yourself’ programme and a family fun day shortly.
The project is hosted by Buds Family Resource Centre. T: 066-7148883.