Newry.ie

Shared Areas, a major community based, health and fitness project was officially launched today at St Joseph’s Boys’ High School in Newry.

Pictured at the launch of the Shared Areas project at St Joseph's Boys High School in Newry were Paula McGuigan, Carnagat Community Association; Brendan Fearon, Project co-ordinator and Hugh Mallon, Principal, St Joseph's. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Pictured at the launch of the Shared Areas project at St Joseph's Boys High School in Newry were Paula McGuigan, Carnagat Community Association; Brendan Fearon, Project co-ordinator and Hugh Mallon, Principal, St Joseph's. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The project aims to secure funding for a series of high calibre sports facilities for community wide access.

Stemming from the highly effective Extended Schools programme, the Shared Areas project was founded in 2013 with the aim of strengthening community cohesion through the redevelopment of local sports provision. Since its conception, the Shared areas committee has worked extensively with community groups, sports clubs and local agencies in formulating a collective vision for the proposed community resources, which include 3G football pitch, Interior climbing walls, Exterior climbing walls, Exterior gym equipment, Inter fitness suite and Cycle provisions.

The groundswell of support for the project has developed so extensively that today’s launch saw the first of several high profile public presentations, the first involving representatives from local community groups.   

Speaking on behalf of the Shared Areas committee, project coordinator Brendan Fearon thanked all the Community Associations and the Confederation of Community Groups for their invaluable collaborative contributions to date and expressed his absolute delight at the phenomenal support that the project has received so far, referencing the list of 50 sports groups, schools and businesses who have actively endorsed the initiative through the facebook page: www.facebook.com/SharedAreas

Mr Fearon further explained that In keeping with the spirit of the Extended Schools ethos, the proposed facilities will be provided where possible free of charge or at a reduced cost; effectively empowering as many people of possible to avail of the much sought after health and fitness resources.

Shared Areas trustee, Dr. Conor Patterson (Newry & Mourne Enterprise Agency) commented that, ‘this project is a not-for-profit social enterprise the purpose of which is to provide all the people of Newry and especially those on low incomes with access to a high standard of health and fitness provision free of the financial constraints which might otherwise dissuade them from taking part in life improving exercise. To reinforce the potential of this project I am appealing to local businesses to show their support for this important community regeneration venture.’

Pictured at the launch of the Shared Areas project at St Joseph's Boys High School in Newry. From left, front: Conor Patterson, Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency; Cllr Charlie Casey, Newry and Mourne District Council; Sean McKevitt, Neighbourhood Renewal and Noreen Rice, Meadow and Armagh Road Community Association. Back: Cathy McMahon, Confederation of Community Groups; Malachy Rafferty,  Derrybeg Community Association; Hugh Mallon, Principal, St Joseph's; Brendan Fearon, Project co-ordinator and Gerry Coyle, Gerard Hutchinson and Jennifer Coyle, Drumalane and Quayside Close Community Association. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Pictured at the launch of the Shared Areas project at St Joseph's Boys High School in Newry. From left, front: Conor Patterson, Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency; Cllr Charlie Casey, Newry and Mourne District Council; Sean McKevitt, Neighbourhood Renewal and Noreen Rice, Meadow and Armagh Road Community Association. Back: Cathy McMahon, Confederation of Community Groups; Malachy Rafferty, Derrybeg Community Association; Hugh Mallon, Principal, St Joseph's; Brendan Fearon, Project co-ordinator and Gerry Coyle, Gerard Hutchinson and Jennifer Coyle, Drumalane and Quayside Close Community Association. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

Attending the launch, Ms Cathy McMahon said that the Confederation of Community Groups is thrilled to be involved in the initiative, explaining that the Shared Areas project will help provide much need resources for the youth and elderly on both a local and community-wide level.

One of the central intentions of the sports redevelopment project is the collaborative approach from all Community Associations and local groups. Trustee of the project, Mr Sean McKevitt (Neighbourhood Renewal) explained that a ‘rewards initiative’ would be in operation involving all the groups who wish to sign up to the programme. This will permit the facilities to be used free of charge for people who have positively contributed to their local area and helped improve the life experiences of others. Mr McKevitt added that this incentive is ‘aimed at rewarding those who constructively engage in community projects, whist also encouraging others to become more actively evolved in social improvements’.

Shared Areas is relying extensively on externally sourced funding to ensure that the community sports project is transformed from a vision into a dynamic reality. Councilor Charlie Casey commented, ‘It is a delight to be involved in the promotion of such a community based initiative, and the planned regeneration of an area that in need of major capital investment. I am however aware that there exists a great disparity in financial support for such a socially driven project. As a trustee of Shared Areas I am actively urging as many people as possible to get behind the initiative and support its intention in whatever manner they are able to.’

For further information about Shared Areas see and ‘like’: www.facebook.com/SharedAreas or contact project coordinator Brendan Fearon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 02830262595

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