Irish rugby legend Willie John McBride officially opened Larne YMCA’s new mobile unit on Monday with the help of a £4,475 community grant from the Housing Executive.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Noel Williams joined the former British Lions and Ireland captain to unveil the new facility named the ‘Wooden Spoon Chill Out Room’ after the children's rugby charity that sponsored it.
Housing Executive funding enabled the youth organisation to furnish and equip a portable building so that early intervention strategies, group work and one-to-one counselling sessions can be delivered.
The venue will be used to deliver a project aimed at educating young people, aged between 9 and 18, about drugs and alcohol and therefore decreasing the likelihood of them becoming involved in anti-social behaviour.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, McBride, the most-capped British and Irish Lion of all time, said the new unit will enable young people at Larne YMCA to be “brought together to do positive things in a positive space.”
“We are delighted to be able to offer assistance to projects that can improve young people’s health and well-being, promote positive behaviour, and help through early intervention strategies,” Housing Executive Good Relations Officer John Read said.
Rugby legend Willie John McBride at the opening of Larne YMCA’s Chill Out Room
“Larne YMCA has an excellent record of delivering youth programmes within the local area and we are proud to be able to support them and the community.”
Bob Loade, Larne YMCA’s volunteer director, said: “We would like to thank the Housing Executive and Good Relations Officer John Read for assisting us with this project.
“We can now deliver our programme to help young people understand the issues surrounding drug and alcohol addiction, provide early intervention and prevention strategies, and help support their mental and emotional health.
“This significantly reduces family stress and the likelihood of antisocial behaviour within the local community.”
Mayor Alderman Williams added: “This is an important additional facility for young people in the YMCA in Larne. Well done to all of those who enabled the project.”