Action Mental Health’s Boost gang unearth jewels beneath the surface of River Foyle

Young people in the North West who attend Action Mental Health’s dedicated youth group are creating a unique piece of art after reaping the benefits of connecting with nature.

Members of AMH New Horizons Foyle Boost group embraced the focus of May’s Mental Health Awareness Week and are preparing to unveil a giant mural inspired by the natural bounty of the local waterways.

Fifteen members of Boost commenced a special research project from last September to March this year to unearth the natural ‘jewels’ of the River Foyle and are creating a mural to depict the mysteries they discovered below the surface.

Helping to bring their learning to life is professional graffiti artist, Donal O’Doherty from Peaball Graffiti. The local artist was enlisted to help the gang from Boost express and transfer their river experience into art, using symbols, sound and colours from the riverscape.

The mural was made possible by a generous donation by Foyle Port, with the artwork incorporating a navigation map detailing significant information on the major river’s natural ‘jewels’.

The Boost team are putting paint to canvas after spending time exploring the river in the Public Health Agency’s Clear project-sponsored initiative. The project encouraged the Boost gang to spend time at the river to engage in the Five Ways to Well-Being: keep active, connect, take notice, keep learning and give.

The young people kept active by walks by the river, river swimming and river gorging, paddle boarding, cycling, archery and jetty jumping. They took notice by recording river sounds, mindful walking, birdwatching, forest bathing and mediation.

They kept learning about the river’s rich history, its ecosystem, flora and fauna and humans’ inextricable links to the natural resource, while also connecting with key stakeholders, including businesses and services that have popped up around the river. Finally, they gave of their time to discover, experience and explore the opportunities that the river has to offer, and to counter the negative connections often associated with the River Foyle. 

The mural, which has been named the ‘Salmon of Knowledge’, feature of Irish mythology, will be mounted at the new event space Ebrington Square, in June. River soundscapes recorded by the young people will activate as passers-by view it.

AMH New Horizons Foyle Service Manager Pauline Flanagan commented: “The young people have really enjoying the experience of their river forays and foraging.

“Many thanks to the Public Health Agency and Clear project for supporting this interesting and inspiring exploration of the local River Foyle. Thank also to Foyle Port for the funding gift, which allows our young people to share their findings with the community.  The young artists hope this will be a truly transformational local experience for everyone who comes along.”

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