George Best Belfast City Airport has hosted a Mental Health Awareness Showcase in partnership with Cinemagic, to premiere short films created by pupils from across Belfast focusing on the issues of mental health and wellbeing.

Pupils from six Belfast secondary schools produced two short films under the guidance of Cinemagic, as the culmination of an innovative project about mental health and wellbeing sponsored by Belfast City Airport and supported by Arts & Business Northern Ireland.

Ahead of World Mental Health Day (10th October), and to coincide with the launch of the 2016 Cinemagic International Film and Television Festival for Young People, the films were aired to an audience in Belfast’s W5 with Communities Minister, Paul Givan, in attendance.

The 23 pupils were from Belfast schools Ashfield Girls’ High School, Malone College, Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, Wellington College, Aquinas Grammar School and Belfast Boys’ Model.

Michelle Hatfield, Director of Corporate Responsibility at Belfast City Airport, said: “With an estimated 1 in 4 people experiencing mental health issues each year, the airport decided to place a specific focus and emphasis on mental wellbeing through our CSR activity. So whilst we have enjoyed a partnership with Cinemagic for a number of years, this project was particularly fitting this year and we are delighted to have been a part of it.

“Anyone can be affected by mental health issues which can have a significant impact on the way a person thinks, behaves or interacts. Unfortunately, it has become one of the biggest silent killers in modern society, particularly amongst young adults. 

“It is therefore crucial that from an early age, young people are educated on not only the signs and symptoms, but also prevention in order to maintain a sound state of mental wellbeing.

“Producing these short films was a fantastic way for the teenagers to increase their own knowledge and awareness of issues which can affect mental health. But most importantly, it broke down the barriers and equipped them with the confidence to talk about it.

“This greater awareness will allow the pupils to help themselves achieve mental wellbeing but to also be aware of identifying and helping those around them who may be in need.

“The films are a fantastic education tool and everyone who took part should be extremely proud. We are certainly very proud to have been involved and to facilitate such a beneficial project.”

The project was supported by the airport’s Community Fund which to date has invested nearly £300,000 in projects which enhance and rich the lives and knowledge of people across greater Belfast and North Down.

Joan Burney Keatings MBE, Cinemagic Chief Executive said: “Educating young people on everyday matters with various film and television disciplines is so important to us, and why we are so grateful for support from the likes of Belfast City Airport each year for our Cinemagic festival.

“The topic of mental health and wellbeing isn’t openly talked about enough, and it is amazing that this project has seen young people take the lead and set a great example.

“This showcase kicked off our entire Cinemagic festival which runs across Belfast until 30th October with over two hundred films and diverse creative opportunities to inspire and motivate young people.”

Paul Givan, Minister for Communities said:“Partnership working is a key element of the new Programme for Government and I want to work together with organisations to ensure that we can make a difference in people’s lives. The showcase here today is a fantastic example of partnership working between the arts sector, schools, business and the community.

“Cinemagic aims to educate and motivate young people from all backgrounds. Attitudes can change and the potential for the future can be multiplied if people, especially young people, are given opportunities. The work of Cinemagic is seeing results, not only in boosting young people’s enjoyment of film, but also real job opportunities for those involved.

“I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the young people who have been involved in this project. Their hard work has paid off and has brought this film to life on our screens. I have no doubt that it will also inspire other young people to have the confidence to believe that they can be creative, and that they can achieve their goals.”

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