Programme Hosts First Training Days

Bullying, racial discrimination, cultural and religious differences among young children were some of the topics highlighted during the first training sessions of the Rural Respecting Difference Programme.

Programme Hosts First Training Days

The programme has been supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body.  It uses specifically created persona puppets and cartoon messages to prompt young children to talk about their feelings and attitudes towards difference in a non-threatening way.  The recent training sessions were delivered to staff from preschools and afterschools from Northern Ireland and the Southern Border Counties participating on the Programme.


The Programme is based on the Media Initiative for Children – Respecting Difference Programme - which helps children to understand the meaning of respect for others. It combines cartoon messages with a curriculum.  Together they aim to build a better understanding among staff, children, parents and management committees of physical, social, ethnic, cultural and religious differences.


Aveen Greenan, Early Years, one of the facilitators of the training explains, ‘The cartoons feature characters children can easily identify with.  The messages in the cartoons are reinforced in early years settings using resources and interactive activities that prompt children to talk about their feelings and attitudes towards issues explored in the cartoons.’


Karen McCormick from Little Stars preschool in Killyleagh, Downpatrick, who attended the training, commented, "I found the training very informative. The new information folder is indispensable and is going to be a very useful tool in promoting the programme. I look forward to introducing it to the children and their families and introducing them to a new way of understanding each other and the different cultures in our community."


Donna McGuinness from Naiscol Lorcan, a preschool in Omeath also attended the training, “I wish to send my thanks on behalf of our setting on delivering an excellent programme”.


Speaking about the Programme, Olga Gallagher, Rural Development Council commented, ‘We are delighted to commence training sessions to staff under the Rural Respecting Difference Programme.  Funding made available through the EU’s PEACE IV Programme has provided valuable information, training, resources and specialist support to early years settings.  The programme offers a very enjoyable and fun way for children to learn key messages in relation to respecting difference.  Preventing the development of prejudices at an early age within families and communities is essential in today’s society.’


The Rural Respecting Difference Programme is a 3-year project which aims to work with 80 settings across Northern Ireland and the Southern Border Counties. To date 29 settings have secured a place on the Programme. Future opportunities to apply will be available over the next 2 years. 


The Rural Respecting Difference Programme is a partnership between the Rural Development Council (RDC), Early Years – the organisation for young children and National Childhood Network.  Match-funding for this project has been provided by the Department of Rural and Community Development in Ireland and the Executive Office in Northern Ireland.


If you would like to find out more information about this programme, please contact Joyce McMullan on 028 8676 6980 or