Winter Graduation 2015: IM HAPPY changes life for Paul Martin
Paul Martin, aged 42 from Ballysally, was unemployed and looking for a new challenge before he signed up to Ulster University's IM HAPPY initiative, a community outreach project designed to raise aspirations and enhance capability through computing.
Today Paul will join eight other participants at Ulster University's Winter Graduation ceremony when he will receive a certificate in personal and professional development.
Ulster University delivers bite-sized computer courses through the IM HAPPY project, which is funded by the Department for Social Development and stands for Improving Hopes, Aspirations, Potential and Prospects in the Youth. As part of the University's commitment to making education accessible to all, it is open to all ages and delivered in schools and community centres in some of Coleraine's most disadvantaged areas.
Helping to enhance participants IT skills in everything from website and app development to robotics and social media, IM HAPPY also aims to raise aspirations of further education or employment in Northern Ireland's thriving STEM sector.
Paul signed up to IM HAPPY after seeing the project promoted at Ballysally primary school community fete.
"The IM HAPPY team had a stand at the local primary school's fete and I spoke with one of the project coordinators from Ulster University who encouraged me to sign up for the IT courses.
"At the time I was out of work and stuck in the house, I was in a really low place with next to no confidence or self esteem, so I thought it would keep me busy and help me meet new people.
"The course has helped build my confidence, I've done all of the ten modules available through the course including a community project for a local business in Coleraine. Along with all the other IT modules, I really benefited from the coaching sessions - they have given me the boost and confidence I needed. I now go out into the community as part of the IM HAPPY team and teach new IT skills to those from neighbourhood renewal areas and help them realise their potential.
"Taking part in today's graduation at Ulster University is proof that the IM HAPPY project has changed my life and it can change YOURS – it just shows you are never to old to learn new things and give back to your community."