A Derry youth worker has been walking the Inishowen peninsula to raise money that will go towards financing the “trip of a lifetime” for local people with learning difficulties.
Fundraisers have taken place for a number of months to send children and adults from the Tuned In Project on the trip of a lifetime to Disneyland Paris - including a concert back in June fronted by Derry band Red Organ Serpent Sound.
The grand total is within reach and in a bid to get it over the line, youth worker and former local councillor, Darren O’Reilly, took on the challenge of walking 100 miles around Inishowen over the course of five days.
Run by Foyle Parents and Friends, the Tuned In Project (TIP) supports people with learning disabilities through the digital and creative arts to promote independence, empowerment, self-esteem and confidence.
Staff provide innovative and engaging tutoring that inspires and challenges their students. It builds confidence through skills such as singing, dancing, drama, music making, DJing and video production.
Over the weekend the student choir from Tuned In performed at Stendhal music festival where they were warmly received.
Manager at TIP, Philip Conn, said the project has been running for six years. “We help them to build life skills and we’re at Stendhal here today. We perform at carnivals and do things at some council run events. We also develop apps for people with disabilities.
“We’ve got the money gathered, and our building is also in desperate need of a lift so any extra money will be used to make a lift so that those with wheelchairs or mobility difficulties will be able to access the second floor.
“People are now coming in from more rural areas so we’re covering more areas in the North West. Anyone who wants to come, we’ll talk to you and try to help because people shouldn’t be stuck in their houses, they should be out and about.
“Forty-one of us (students and staff) will be going away to Disneyland and Darren will be coming along as a volunteer so he decided he wanted to do a fundraiser.”
On his journey, Darren has been greeted by typical Irish weather, showers followed by more showers, and said it was like Moses parting the Red Sea when he came over Mamore Gap and the sun finally made an appearance.
The first leg of the walk was from Derry to Dunree. Speaking after completing day 2 where he finished up in Carndonagh, Darren took time to explain: “There are children and adults with learning difficulties who will be going to Disney on the 1st of September. The Tuned In Project will be taking them away and I’ll be one of the volunteers going with them.
“Most of them have never been away before without their parents so it’s a massive thing for them to go away on their own, having that independence and inclusion.
“A sponsored silence might’ve been better, people would’ve donated a fortune, but I couldn’t do that,” he joked.
“The event at the Nerve Centre was one of the first and others have taken place throughout the summer. This will probably be the last and if there’s any money left over it will be used to benefit the students involved in the project.”
Upwards of £700 thanks to generous donations from the public. The journey will finish at Muff tomorrow (Tuesday, August 20) and if you wish to donate you can visit Darren O’Reilly’s Facebook page or the Tuned In Project’s for further details.

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