Started by Salla Sovio-Heron in 2007, Solas is a targeted, community-based after-school intervention located in Basin Lane flats, Dublin 8.
The vision of the Solas project is to see communities rejuvenated through education and sport. Solas targets children who are at risk of early school leaving due to educational and social disadvantage through working closely with the local primary school. Many of the children have challenging home situations due to parental drug or alcohol abuse.
Solas was originally set up in 2007 as Solas after school project, a dynamic after-school intervention programme. In 2011 it amalgamated with a local organisation with considerable overlap in vision to become Solas project. It is now comprised of Solas Education and Solas Sport. This pooling of resources and ideas has enabled the project to make a greater positive impact, and has increased the range of programmes offered which make a real difference in the lives of children affected by social and educational disadvantage.
Each day the primary school project provides the children involved with a nutritious meal, encouragement in completing their homework, help in improving literacy skills, and purposeful activities in a positive home-like environment. A secondary school support programme and university introduction programme also help to improve participant’s educational achievements and skills.
This gives an opportunity to make a significant impact in their lives as they acquire the life-skills they need to break the cycle of low educational achievement, unemployment and substance abuse. They can relax, play, do their homework, and feel loved, cared for and valued in the safe environment of the project.
Solas also supports the parents through individual meetings and family activities. With dramatic improvements shown in the children’s academic and personal progress during their time in the project, Salla is determined to expand this much-needed service to other areas.
Solas project currently has seven projects running in both primary and secondary schools. Solas Sport runs a prison and probation rugby training programme and primary and secondary school sports programmes.
When these children come into Solas, they are given the chance to just be children again.