Seeing what a huge impact his funding for the BYT Scholarship had on this year’s two lucky scholars, Leanne Stewart  from Magherafelt and Aoife Mc Cormac  from Belfast, internationally acclaimed actor James Nesbitt has once again lent his support to local drama school, Bright Young Things (BYT), for their second scholarship programme, which starts this September.
The scholarship opportunity is for children whose circumstances might not normally allow them to avail of private drama and confidence building classes; and BYT Patron Nesbitt has compounded his belief in the importance of the arts for all young people by supporting a full year’s membership to BYT for two lucky young people, aged between 3-18 from across Northern Ireland; one in BYT Magherafelt and one in BYT Belfast. Their time at BYT will be mentored by founder and director Lisa Duffy and their progress followed by James Nesbitt himself.
Nesbitt said: “I’m so delighted to support the BYT scholarship programme again. Drama and performing arts training from an early age can be key in developing personality, social skills, confidence, and of course, it is also a great way of nurturing a natural talent who may not have had the opportunity otherwise. I’m looking forward to meeting the 2015 scholars at some point soon so they can tell me all about it.”
Claire McErlean, mother of the 2015 Belfast scholarship recipient Aoife said: “I’m so glad we applied and were awarded the Bright Young Things Scholarship because Aoife is just oozing confidence now. She’s more independent and the classes have put her in really good stead for starting primary one. I’d urge any parent seeking to increase their child’s confidence to apply.”
BYT Director Lisa, who is a trained actor, qualified teacher and performing arts lecturer, added: “The arts provide skills not just for the stage, but more importantly they equip young people with skills for school, for home and for life. The incredible changes that we have seen in both Leanne and Aoife over that last year is proof that with this scholarship we can make a lasting impact on young people’s confidence and capabilities, both now and into their futures. It’s been such a privilege to help Leanne and Aoife blossom. There is a growing lack of the arts in our schools’ curricula so it is vital that we encourage it out of home and school.”
“Through games, improvisation, storytelling, music, movement, team-building activities, performance and more, our courses at BYT ignite curiosity and encourage self-belief in each and every one of our 3-18 year old members. And we have an outrageous amount of fun doing it!”
Applications for the scholarship are available from the BYT website at www.bytdrama.com. Young people aged between 3-18 can enter themselves or parents can enter on behalf of their child, depending on age and ability.
Lisa explained: “After a successful application process last year, we expect a huge response to Jimmy’s Scholarship and want to ensure that the most deserving young people are awarded this opportunity; therefore highest priority will be given to applicants who currently have financial barriers to attending a class like BYT.
“We’re all about opening up kids’ creative sides, so this year we are asking you to get creative with your cameras! Take a snap holding our logo in the craziest, most imaginative place you can think of and show off your personality! Up a tree, under water, riding a donkey, in a shopping trolley, anywhere – just get out there and show us a creative sparkle that we might feel the need to ignite and encourage through BYT!”
But while Lisa is all about fun for the kids, she also concluded with a serious note saying: “We know that there are children across Northern Ireland who really need a boast in confidence and self-esteem. We know there are children who are naturally creative but have nowhere to explore this talent. With this scholarship, we want to open up the opportunities and invaluable benefits that drama can bring to children who currently face barriers to joining a class or school.”
Leanne Stewart, Jimmy’s Magherafelt Scholar 2015 (15) added: “When I first began I felt really nervous doing stuff in in front of people I didn’t know, but now I have actually become more confident within school and don’t put myself down so much. I’d say to anyone who is applying for the scholarship to make their entry really stand out and be really inspirational and fun.”