The young gardeners transforming Navan housing estates

A GROUP of up to 70 teenagers and children have been transforming housing estates in Navan by making and planting flower boxes, floral displays, painting and litter picking.

The project is organised by youth worker, Gordon Meighan of Youth Work Ireland Meath and is taking place in estates in the Commons Road and Windtown areas.

"So far this year, we have done 10-12 housing estates. The youngsters love it and the local residents are coming out and talking to them. It is a great way of building relationships between the young people and the community.

Gordon works with youth clubs in the Claremont and Windtown area and every Wednesday works with refugee youngsters in Mosney.

"We stated on a very small basis two years ago and made flower boxes for Navan Hospital, Millberry Nursing Home and the HSE building on the Commons Road.

"There were between 10 and 17 youngsters involved. They made the flower boxes, putting them together, painting them and filling them with flowers.

"They absolutely loved it. I knew there was a hunger for it and that it could grow.

"Last year we did 10 housing estates. There were 50 young people involved. They were members of our youth clubs, but other young people also joined in.

"They made flower boxes, did litter picking and in some cases helped individual people with their gardens."

"Residents were delighted to see their estates looking so well. The youngsters were great workers and learned a lot, picking it all up very quickly."

The group won the Navan Pride of Place Award for Youth Development last year and then went on to win the county title.

Gordon got the young people in Mosney involved in a similar project there, which also proved very popular and they also won a Pride of Place award.

"We are back again this year and this time, we have up to 70 young people involved. They are refurbishing last year's boxes and making more. It is great to see them at work. There is a real hunger to join in. The young people in Mosney are also involved again this year and we are now doing something similar in Trim too.

"The feedback from the young people has been great. They really enjoy it and want to be involved and they love when the communities come out and talk to them. There is a great atmosphere," he said.

Emily, one of the teenagers involved in the project said she loved being involved.

"It gives me something to do. I had done a bit of gardening before, but Gordon taught me a lot. I love doing it, the residents are delighted, we get so many compliments on what we are doing.

"I enjoy the company while we are working and the sense of pride in what we achieve. I would hope to do it again next year"

Kevin Coogan who lives in Claremont Estate, where the youngsters carried out a lot of work said they were wonderful young people.

"It has been absolutely fantastic. They have done great work. We had a wee patch of land where I had started to cut the bushes and plant a few things and Gordon asked if he could bring the youngsters along to help.

"It was fantastic to just see them making the boxes there and then. The place looks fantastic and the flowers are coming on so well, it is a credit to them.

"They are also doing this in all the other estates too. The are lovely young people. It is great to see them, they are all very friendly and well mannered," he said.

The Mayor of Navan, Cllr Eddie Fennessy said Gordon Meighan and the team at YWIM carry out very important work in the local community.

"They bring children and adults together to work on projects that transform green areas into floral spaces that local residents can enjoy.

"It's been a hugely successful project and I pay tribute to Gordon and all those involved. They are a credit to the people of Navan. I look forward to watching this initiative develop further over the coming years," he said.