Carndonagh Social Enterprise, Spraoi agus Spórt, secured school tours for over 530 local children, after principals appealed for help. Under Covid restrictions, tours were only permitted if they stayed local, so schools wanted help to create exciting and engaging days out.
“Social enterprises are unique in their ability to respond quickly to local needs, and we are no exception”, says Spraoi agus Spórt Co-Founder & CEO, Helen Nolan. “Our staff got creative and put together five options for safer small groups, so classes could remain in their bubbles and each pupil would get more attention. We also wanted the local economy to benefit, so we engaged with local business and activity owners too.”
In the end, Spraoi agus Spórt created an exciting programme involving fun activities at their centre and other local venues. A total of 9 schools took part, and 538 local children got their big day out. “These children would have missed out on their school tour if we had not stepped in,” says Helen.
The tour options included Build a Teddy Bear, Design a T-Shirt, surfing and a visit to their Fab Lab. There was also an obstacle course and park games. Helen says they also worked with Inishowen Surf School to provide surfing lessons. “We gave everyone a personalised medal from our Digital Fabrication Laboratory as a keepsake of their tour.”
“It’s important to highlight the fact that as a social enterprise, we believe in the importance of working with others in our community. Doherty’s (Fintan’s) provided the ice-cream cones, and The Diamond Cafe provided the lunches. We worked with Inishowen Surf School to provide the surfing lessons and BBQ and John Gibbons organised the park games and a treasure hunt.”
“Our school tours also catered particularly well for children with a disability,” says Helen. Spraoi has extensive experience delivering disability services and has specialised resources such as a state-of-the-art sensory room.
The tours also provided children with a great taster session for what Spraoi offers during the holidays and after school throughout the year.
“This initiative is a real living example of how a community can be stronger together,” says Helen. “We saw local schools buying into the importance of supporting their local social enterprise. We saw Spraoi delivering a top-class service, supported by the other businesses in the town.”
The primary schools that took part were Glentogher National School, Scoil Cholmchille Glengad, Cloontagh National School, St. Brigid’s National School, Glenmakee, Scoil Phadraig Rashenny,
Scoil Treasa Naofa Malin, St Patricks’s Boys’ School, Carndonagh, Urblereagh National School and Scoil Naomh Treasa Tiernasligo.
Alex Bradley, a 3rd class pupil, summed it up like this…. “Mum we are going on our school tour to Spraoi. Isn’t it so great that it’s local?” Children from Glentogher said they enjoyed the journey to the park and building their own bear.
Teachers were equally impressed. “We loved every part of the day. It was fun filled from start to finish,” says one teacher from Scoil Treasa Naofa Malin. “This tour was excellent, one of the best we ever went on,” says a teacher from Scoil Cholmchille Glengad. The ‘Spraoi Staff” were fantastic, great with the children and so well organised. They followed all Covid guidelines perfectly! The children were so happy throughout. The medal, ice cream and food gave great value for money and was of a high standard.”
Spraoi chairperson, Patricia Lee, lays out some key facts behind the fun days out. “This year we ensured that the school tour income from 538 pupils stayed in our local economy. It is important to recognise the importance of schools and parents supporting this initiative, by using our services you are supporting 12 full and part time jobs. These jobs ensure that we can deliver essential local services such as disability services and gives us the ability to adapt and respond to situations such just like this. Staying local ensured our schools reduced their carbon footprint too so it’s a win all round”.
Spraoi agus Spórt is an award-winning social enterprise based in Carndonagh, Inishowen, Co. Donegal and founded in 2010. They provide excellent social, recreational and educational activities for the community, focused on family development and bringing social, recreational and economic benefits to the area. They have 15 volunteers and serve around 600 participants in their activities every week. Awards they have won include:
- 2020 Winner Pride of Place – Community Well-Being Initiative
- 2019 & 2018 Winner Social Enterprise of the Year at the Charity Impact Awards
- 2019 Social Enterprise Development Fund Awardee with Rethink Ireland