Event puts respecting difference in the spotlight

Rural Respecting Difference is making a real difference as participants become much more aware of other cultures, social backgrounds and physical attributes as they learn that difference can be a very good thing indeed.

Event puts respecting difference in the spotlight

Teresa Canavan RDC Chief Executive,  Colette Quigley Early Years Specialist, Doreen Kennedy Scoil Naomh Fiachra, Claire Hyland Scoil Naomh Fiachra, Moira Graham-Cruz Early Years Specialist

The positive impact cultural, social and physical differences have in local society were highlighted recently at a Peer to Peer Learning Event in Clogher.

Organised by the Peace III funded Rural Respecting Difference Programme, the seminar brought together teachers and after school leaders with representatives from the project partners including the Rural Development Council (RDC), Early Years, and the Border Counties Childhood Network (BCCN).

The Rural Respecting Difference Programme was specifically designed to educate and inform a wide variety of participants including young children, practitioners and parents and is currently being delivered across Northern Ireland and the border counties.

As well as discussing their learning and experiences on the programme, attendees heard from Professor Paul Connolly, Head of the School of Education at Queen’s University, Belfast. Professor Connolly played an integral role in the development of the programme and he provided attendees with an insight into how the Media Initiative for Children Programme originated.

Addressing the conference, Professor Connolly noted:

“A rigorous evaluation has been carried out on the Media Initiative for Children programme in which robust evidence was found that the programme achieved positive effects regarding children's attitudes and awareness in relation to their socio-emotional development, cultural awareness and inclusive behaviour.”

As well as discussing the impact of the programme, those attending were treated to a number of presentations from programme participants including Ballybay Community Crèche, Scoil Naomh Fiachra from Letterkenny and Killen based First Steps Children’s Centre.

Guests also got to see a special preview of the latest instalment of the popular ‘Together in The Park’ media initiative. The all new feature boasts a brand new character called Lucy and this time the action takes place in a rural setting as she shows her new friend Bukola around the area.

Speaking at the event, Teresa Canavan, Chief Executive, RDC, said:

"As a parent and advocate for rural sustainability I believe passionately that if we want our children and communities to thrive and survive we must do all we can to educate, promote respect for diversity and share services.  

“The content of the cartoon is very important and we knew to get the message right we needed to engage with those organisations and people that play a significant role in rural life.  

“We were absolutely delighted to form a steering group comprising of partner organisations and the GAA, Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Southern Education & Library Board, South Tyrone Empowerment Programme and South Armagh SureStart and with their collective vision develop the new character, Lucy and a rural message.

“The new advertisement follows the same format as the previous messages but introduces a brand new setting from a rural perspective and features many aspects of rural living while highlighting the importance of farming life, shared education, sporting and community activities." 

 The new message will be broadcast on television later this year.