MAKING education fun was the oft-repeated mantra at the recent official opening of the Learning Hub Limerick in Thomondgate, an event attended by many of the children who use the service, plus their parents and invited guests.
The hub, which works with education providers, statutory agencies and the local community to provide a “safe, welcoming and inspiring environment where young people can reach their true potential”, works with over 1000 kids, from pre-school to teenagers, developing responses to educational disadvantage and early school leaving. It is a non-profit, charitable organisation funded by a variety of local and national bodies.
Although in operation since October 2007, the hub, which was formerly known as the Northside Learning Hub but changed its name to reflect the use of the service by children across the city and county, was officially opened last week to reflect the handing over of a 999-year freehold over the land on which the centre sits by the St Martin’s Trust and the Salesian Order.
“This is an incredible resource, owned by the community, that is what today is about and it is also about showcasing the work that goes on here and giving people a look at the new music facility,” explained Jennifer Moroney-Ward, manager of the hub.
“We are officially opening Learning Hub Limerick, we changed the name to reflect the kids coming from all over the city, and also to reflect the number of volunteers we have coming from all over the city, we had over 110 volunteers last year from the colleges in Limerick, and if we counted up all of those volunteer hours it would be 8,800 hours last year, so we are celebrating that and celebrating the fact that the lease has been organised,” she added.
Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan TD, who officially opened the Learning Hub said that it was a “centre that involves the whole community”.
“The thing it does so well is to use the third level students in Limerick - it is a very good, original model, I don’t think it happens anywhere else in the country,” she explained.
“It is wonderful to have a resource such as this. What the children get out of it is that they have the opportunity to learn what they want to learn, and that in turn means they tend to stay on in school longer because they feel that learning is something positive, something fun, and it gives them a better attitude to school as well.”
Among the invited guests were local councillors, Mayor Maria Byrne, Deputy Willie O’Dea, MEP Sean Kelly, Professor Don Barry and Brendan Kenny of Limerick Regeneration.