Mencap HYPE Former students with learning disabilities at schools in Northern Ireland's North Eastern Education and Library Board have received certificates for completing an employment training programme.

The youngsters completed Mencap’s HYPE – Helping Young People enter Education and Employment – programme. HYPE works with students in year 11 and 12 with a learning disability in learning support centres at mainstream schools to prepare them for leaving school.

The project introduces students to the world of work through personal development, employment preparation and work placements.

Lee Kirkpatrick (pictured left), a former student at Magherafelt High School, said: “The HYPE project was great experience for me as it helped me plan for my future. I learnt how to plant flowers and other plants and look after them. I also cleaned the park so it looked its best. I am now at Greenmount College doing a diploma in horticulture.”

Maureen Piggot, Mencap in Northern Ireland’s director, added: “This is an occasion to celebrate the ingenuity, drive and spirit of creativity that these young people have shown in taking charge of their lives so they can do the things they want to do.

“HYPE is a project that is successfully answering a genuine need. As a result, these young people are moving forward in their lives and going on to further education and training opportunities that include childcare, hairdressing, plastering, joinery, sports studies and music production to name a few.”

Oonagh McCann, field officer for special education at the North Eastern Education and Library Board, HYPE’s partner organisation, added: “HYPE gives young people the right support, encouragement and opportunity to prepare for leaving school and enter employment, education or training. This can be a difficult time for students and parents, which is why the HYPE project is so important.”