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Wednesday 4 October 2023 Dublin: 15°C
Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland Next year will be the 10th anniversary of Bloom. (File photo)
# journal journeys
Journeys with Waterford project for underprivileged teens proves Blooming brilliant
The first winner of 100 free Irish Rail trips is a group of talented teens whose sensory garden design is headed for the capital.

A SENSORY GARDEN designed and assembled by a group of young people from a Waterford community group will be shown at next year’s Bloom festival – and we’ll be taking them there.

We are delighted to announce the first winner in the Irish Rail partnership with to provide free rail trips for deserving community groups is the Pact project from the Pact project from Waterford city.

Pact focuses its work on children from underprivileged areas and recently won a garden show with their imaginative design. The prize was to see their garden presented at Ireland’s largest garden festival next summer and they applied to the Irish Rail Journeys with programme to make it to Dublin to see their hard work recreated.

The project caters for about 40 children aged 12 to 18 at two locations, Manor Street and Ferrybank, with volunteer coordinator Brian Cuddihy explaining that its aim is to prevent children getting involved in anti-social behaviour.

Recently, another volunteer suggested they enter a garden design in the Waterford Harvest Festival.

pact1 PACT An element of the PACT garden at Waterford's Harvest Festival. PACT

“It’s something that the young people on the project – and we have about 40 of them here – could all contribute to,” Cuddihy says.

We could construct it on the day and we could get all the ideas from the young people. Some would have brothers and sisters who have disabilities or would be on the autistic spectrum, so they knew about sensory gardens and generally a fun garden for kids to play in and interact with.

The garden was built over the course of about six weeks and is designed to be a fun area for children, especially for children who may have a disability.

Included in the garden is a chalkboard which the group describes as their ‘Waterford Words’, a nod to Waterford Walls art project in the city.

pact3 PACT The chalkboard in action. PACT

The garden was first assembled at Pact’s Ferrybank centre before it was taken apart and reassembled at the Waterford Harvest Festival.

The Pact project won at the festival and the reward for their win included a place at Bloom 2017 and a small cash prize.

Cuddihy explains that the young people in the group were also consulted about how they should spend their winnings.

“We were delighted obviously for the children,” he says.

There was a little bit of prize money which we decided beforehand that if we won we’d keep a bit to do up our own garden at the back of our centre in Ferrybank. The other half; we could do with a few wetsuits for when we go out on the water.

The spot at Bloom next June, however, is the main part of the prize and the children of the Pact project will be working with the Brothers of Charity disability services group on the final garden.

The garden will also be professionally finished with the teenagers at the group also learning from the experience.

Cuddihy adds that he’s also recently been informed that the entire Pact group will be provided with transport to Bloom as part of Irish Rail’s Journeys with partnership.

“This prize has given us the opportunity to bring everybody on the project up there for a day and to see the garden and to see Bloom. The young people we work with from disadvantaged area would never have considered something like Bloom,” Cuddihy says.

  • will be announcing one winner a week, over the next four weeks, but there are 100 round trips to be won – for up to 50 people in a group at a time, so a whopping 5,000 tickets – and you can apply until 28 October 2016.

Read: “A fabulous, happy day” – 100 reasons to get on board Journeys >

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