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Stepping Out Art Exhibition Launched

20 May 2013
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Monday 20th May 2013: “If someone said to me a year ago that I’d be making plans to go to college, I wouldn’t have believed them. But Stepping Out has opened up a new world of possibilities for me. It’s basically given me my life back”. These are the words of Ruth Lennon, a participant of Stepping Out, National Learning Network’s innovative programme based in Athlone, specifically designed to help assist people from the Midlands region who have been to prison or are on Probation to rebuild their lives.

Now, art works created by Ruth and 11 of her colleagues in Stepping Out will be displayed for the first time at a free exhibition which takes place in the Dean Crowe Hall, Athlone from Wednesday 22nd to Friday 24th May. The exhibition, which is open to members of the public, features a wide range of paintings, sculpture and even a small boat produced by participants of the Stepping Out Boat Building project.

The art exhibition will be officially opened on Wednesday 22nd May by successful local businessman, Sean Keyes who will make the presentation of FETAC Levels 3, 4, and 5 certificates to Stepping Out participants in areas which include Communication Skills, IT, Health-Related Fitness and Personal Interpersonal Skills. Other modules include dealing with Offending Behaviour, Confidence Building and Goal Setting. Former participant, Shona Murray, will address the participants about her time in Stepping Out, which she left in 2010, and her busy career as a manager of two gyms in the midlands.

Speaking of the art exhibition, Jim McNamee, Stepping Out Co-ordinator with National Learning Network, said that there’s a wealth of creativity among participants of Stepping Out. “Art is an important form of therapy and the arts and crafts module that we offer in conjunction with our VEC tutor Anne Wingfield is hugely popular. In fact, a number of our former participants have now progressed to studying Art and Design in local colleges. There’s a wealth of talent on display in this exhibition. We are very proud of the work of each of the artists as their thoughts and emotions are evident in the creativity of their work.”

Funded by the Probation Service in partnership with FAS and the VEC and supported by a management committee utilising a multi agency approach, Stepping out aims to work with participants from the midlands region to prevent them from re-offending, to address their addictions, enhance their employment opportunities and to increase access to further education. The programme is now in its 12th year and in that time has supported over 220 people with wide-ranging needs relating to their drug or alcohol addictions, history of offending behaviours and poor education or lack of work experience.

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For further information

Jim McNamee, Stepping Out Co-ordinator, National Learning Network Tel: (090) 647 9293