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21 August 2020

A group of people living at Hawthorne Gardens in Banbridge have come together to organise outdoor tai chi sessions in order to promote good community spirit at their housing development.


(L-R) Carol Hanna, Austin Kelly from Clanmil, Robert McCurdy and Florence Weir join Karen McStraw of the Tai Chi for Health Institute (centre) for a tai chi class at Hawthorne Gardens.


This is the first community project undertaken by the newly formed Hawthorne Gardens Residents' Group who plan to run more events and activities for people living at the housing scheme as a part of a 5 year Good Relations Plan. The Plan is being developed in association with local political and community representatives and Clanmil Housing, who own and manage the development. The plan will support Good Relations Projects for communities within a 5 mile radius of Hawthorn Gardens.

Hawthorne Gardens opened in Summer 2019 and is one of 10 shared neighbourhoods led by the Department for Communities and delivered under the Northern Ireland Executive Together: Building A United Community (T:buc) strategy which aims to build a more shared society.

Shared neighbourhoods give people the choice of living alongside people from many backgrounds and traditions in neighbourhoods that are welcoming to all.

Originally developed as a martial art in 13th century China, tai chi is now widely practiced for its health benefits, reducing stress and improving balance and mobility.

Robert McCurdy, Chairperson of the Hawthorn Gardens Residents Group said:

"The class is the first of a series of planned outdoor, socially distanced events that the recently established residents' group is planning. These events are aimed at encouraging interaction between people living here at Hawthorn Gardens as well as helping to improve the general health and wellbeing of participants."

Austin Kelly, Community Cohesion Officer at Clanmil, has been supporting people living at Hawthorne Gardens to set up the new residents' group and to develop a programme of activities. He said:

"We are delighted to be able to support this group who are taking the lead in creating a vibrant community within their scheme. Activities like this give people opportunities to come together, enjoy each other's company and get to know each other better - so important in a strong community.

"We are really encouraged by the positive response from the Hawthorne Gardens neighbours today. It was lovely to see people come out to exercise together in the sunshine. I'm really looking forward to working with Robert and the other residents on more great initiatives like this.


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