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Nettlefield PS pupils revive Belfast street games

Nettlefield PS pupils revive Belfast street games

Pupils from a Belfast school have tapped into their local community to keep alive the street-games, songs and rhymes that once rang through the city streets on a daily basis.

Nettlefield Primary School and Willowfield Seniors Group in East Belfast have bridged the generation gap to produce a DVD, website (WWW.BELFASTSTREETGAMES.CO.UK) and book which will ensure that the games and pastimes of yesteryear are not lost to future generations.

The project was the idea of Judith Acheson, Extended Schools Coordinator at Nettlefield Primary School, who noticed that the games enjoyed by previous generations were not being passed down to the children at the school.

“I thought it was a shame that none of the children knew any of the handclap games and street games that we played when we were younger,” said Judith.

“Some of the children would complain about being bored in the playground so the staff made it their mission to teach the games and rhymes that would have been played in the playground and in the streets surrounding the school for generations, but now sadly seem to be dying out in favour of computer games.”

There was such interest among the children that regular visits to the local Willowfield Seniors Group became a highlight of the school week. The group would tell the children what life was like in the area when they were growing up, tell stories from the time of World War II, as well as teaching the games and rhymes.

As well as demonstrations of the games and songs, the 48-minute DVD also features interviews with four remarkable ladies who have lived in the area their entire lives, 87-year-old Madge Taggart, Sally Lowry, Phil Mussen and Edna Rowan. The book ‘Are Ye Comin’ Out to Play? - Songs, Rhymes and Games from an East Belfast Childhood’ features photographs spanning 10 decades of life in East Belfast.

The project was made possible by funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

“By capturing and recording the unique heritage of an East Belfast childhood, this project has brought to life the street-games of the past for a whole new generation to enjoy. We hope this resource will enable many more young people to discover these games, rhymes and songs, as well as providing fond memories for past generations,” said Paul Mullan, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund NI.

Judith Campbell, BELB Income Generation Manager, added: “This is a valuable piece of local history and tradition brought to life and preserved for future generations. It is a fantastic learning experience for children to be part of this living history project which will not just be of interest to people from East Belfast but to anyone who has an interest in life in Belfast throughout the 20th century.”