New Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library launched in East Belfast
This week, a certain American country singer was the name on everyone’s lips as Apex Housing Association (Apex), in partnership with Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club, launched a new Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Belfast. The programme will provide free books to 100 local children under the age of 5 and is being supported by the ‘Housing for All’ Shared Housing Programme.
Established in 1995, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has gifted over 200 million free books in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Australia, and the Republic of Ireland. The new partnership with Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club and Apex will provide 100 children from south and east Belfast with the opportunity to receive free high-quality, age-appropriate books each month.
The new Imagination Library in Belfast has been made possible by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive’s ‘Housing for All’ Shared Housing Programme. The Programme has its origins in the NI Executive Together: Building a United Community Strategy which reflects the Executive’s commitment to improving community relations and continuing the journey towards a more united and shared society.
Apex’s Ballynafoy Close shared housing development in Belfast is supported by the Department for Communities and the Northern Ireland Housing Executive. £11m was invested in the scheme’s development and associated good relations plan.
Donna Matthewson, Apex’s Director of Housing, commented:
“We are delighted to be able to support such a worthwhile initiative for families in Belfast. The global Imagination Library programme has already been proven to have a positive impact on early childhood development and literacy skills; and working with Ledley Hall, we are thrilled to give local children in south and east Belfast the opportunity to begin their lifelong love of reading.”
Michelle Fullerton, Senior Youth Worker from Ledley Hall Boys and Girls Club, said:
“We are delighted to launch this new partnership with Apex and the Dollywood Foundation UK. This programme will provide opportunities for children and their families to build relationships from birth, prior to being able to attend school or youth services. The children will have the opportunity to meet on a monthly basis and for an annual party in the park. This programme will help us strengthen our relationships with good relations partners whilst improving educational outcomes. We are very grateful to the shared housing programme for funding this fantastic initiative.”
Harry Maher, Department for Communities Shared Housing Manager, said:
“This is a great project that will engage young people from across south and east Belfast. Educational attainment is a key focus in many of the Shared Housing Programme Good Relations Plans, and projects such as these encourage reading to support the development of vital literacy skills. I look forward to working in partnership with Apex Housing, Ledley Hall and The Dollywood Foundation.”
Meg Fletcher, Regional Director for The Dollywood Foundation UK, said:
“We are delighted to have Apex Housing and Ledley Hall join our network of fantastic local programme partners in Northern Ireland! We know that the simple act of gifting a book has such an incredible impact on families, allowing them to explore other worlds and enjoy quality time together sharing a story.”
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in south and east Belfast will provide free books to 100 children aged under 5 years old. If you live in the BT5, BT6 or BT7 area of Belfast, you can register your child by coming along to Ledley Hall on Wednesday 27 September between 1pm and 4pm, or phone Ledley Hall on 028 9045 1722.
Images: George Pennock Photography