Rural Respecting Difference Programme Launched

Last week saw the launch of the Rural Respecting Difference Programme, involving the Northern Ireland Rural Development Council, Early Years – the organisation for young children and the Border Counties Childhood Network. The announcement was made at a major International Childhood Development conference hosted by Early Years in the Europa Hotel, Belfast.

Rural Respecting Difference Programme Launched

Pictured at the launch of the Rural Respecting Difference Programme are (L-R) Jennifer McCann, OFMDFM Junior Minister, Ciaran Hanna, SEUPB, Joy Hadden, NI Rural Development Council, Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Early Years and Denise McCormilla, BCCN.

The partners explained that the Rural Respecting Difference Programme is based on the Early Years Media Initiative for Children Respecting Difference Programme and is aimed at rural based Primary schools and Afterschool clubs in a number of geographic areas along the border in both Northern Ireland and the Southern counties.

The programme is part financed by the European Union’s European Regional Development Fund through the EU’s PEACE III Programme for Peace and Reconciliation and is being delivered jointly by the Northern Ireland Rural Development Council (RDC), Early Years, and the Border Counties Childhood Network (BCCN).

Significantly, the programme will be delivered via a number of engaging, innovative and fun based teaching methods including the use of specially created persona puppets. Each puppet has been developed with its own identity and media message and offers a non-threatening, effective and child friendly way to develop emotional literacy and empower young children. The overarching aim is to reinforce progress towards a peaceful and stable society and promote reconciliation by developing a respecting difference approach to cultural, religious, ethnic and racial differences within Northern Ireland and the southern border counties.

Speaking at the launch, Joy Hadden of the RDC commented, “the make-up of our rural communities has changed substantially in recent years and so the Rural Respecting Difference Programme is a very timely intervention which RDC are delighted to be involved in, in partnership with recognised leaders in the childcare sector”.

Denise Mc Cormilla of the Border Counties Childhood Network said, “ the programme has had many positive benefits for children, families and Pre-school staff involved in previous cross border projects, which has actually been evidenced through staff participation in a number of quality assurance programmes

Finally, Siobhan Fitzpatrick of Early Years commented “the Media Initiative for Children has been proven to deliver positive attitudes towards difference in both young children and their families and we are delighted to be involved in the Rural Respecting Difference Programme. This project brings another dimension to our work with young children and gives Early Years an opportunity to engage with harder to reach families in rural areas through our innovative approach to inclusion and diversity related work.”

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