The Pushkin Trust, an organisation which promotes creative learning, writing and other artistic activities in schools, this week launched a book celebrating its 25th birthday with help from Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid and the organisation’s founder, the Duchess of Abercorn.
The launch for Voices – 25 Years of the Pushkin Trust was held at the Verbal Arts Centre, Londonderry and saw McDaid acknowledge how his winning a creative writing competition organised by the trust had helped him envisage a future as a musician and songwriter. He was the first winner of the Pushkin prize back in 1988 with his story, A Symbol of Hope.
Johnny said: “Writing and creativity are hugely important to me and in the music industry they are key to any artist’s success. I was lucky enough to have been involved with the first Pushkin Prize when I was 11. I was really inspired as a child by the idea that writing was something that I could do with my life.
“Education is vital to the success and transformation of Northern Ireland yet it is under extreme pressure and our youth is at risk of losing out. Thankfully, in the Pushkin Trust we have groups and individuals who are willing to make a change to ensure that pupils and participants are exposed to the creative and inspiring spirit.”
In her address at the launch the Duchess of Abercorn said: “Over these past 25 years we have had the pleasure of working with thousands of pupils and hundreds of teachers from the north and south of Ireland and this book gives us the opportunity to pay homage to all those people who have helped to make the Pushkin Trust what it is today.”
Named after Alexander Pushkin, one of Russia’s greatest literary figures, and founded by the Duchess of Abercorn, – a direct descendant of the writer – the trust began in 1987 as a creative writing competition for children on a cross-community, cross-border basis.
The organisation began with the principle of “uniting children and adults in a common bond of creativity which transcends all the factors that might otherwise divide them.” Since then it has evolved into an educational programme involving many areas of the school curriculum including music, art, dance, writing and the environment. The current Pushkin programme focuses on development of a whole-school approach to the promotion of creativity. The trust counts poets Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley as patrons.
The new Voices publication reflects on the creative experiences children and their teachers have enjoyed since the trust began.
For more information on the Pushkin Trust’s work visit http://www.pushkintrust.com/
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