The two playgroups in Ballyconnell; Clever Clogs and Krafty Kids work together on the Sharing From The Start programme.
The two settings, one private and one community, based in the Co Cavan border town have partnered together to engage children in curriculum based sessions which are fun, inclusive and respectful of difference , on the premise they can provide more opportunities working together than they can apart.
Their focus for the curriculum this year has been around community development. Parents have praised the idea of the out of the classroom learning environment as a means of providing new opportunities and enhancing their confidence and social skills.
Ballyconnell is significantly more diverse and socio-economically disadvantaged compared to the rest of the country. Sharing From The Start is helping the community address difference, take away stigma and foster relationships among children, parents and staff.
Annette Coyle leader at Krafty Kidz said “Historically there wouldn’t have been co-operation between the two services and that’s something we wanted to address because many of these children are living together on the same streets and will be going to the same schools. Sharing From The Start has helped to break down barriers and remove any stigma that may have been there. It’s given the two services coming together along with the parents and children a shared purpose and a shared vision working together as part of the community. We would have children attending from all different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and we really wanted to give every child the opportunity to feel connected to their peers and to socialise with other children that they may not otherwise meet. The programme has really opened up a lot of doors for us to explore all the fabulous facilities that we have locally. Before Sharing From The Start that’s not something we would have had the opportunity to do, so it’s benefitted not only the children and families but also the wider community as well.”
Paula Donohoe leader at Clever Cloggs said “Sharing From The Start demonstrates that barriers only exist where you put barriers and it’s great if you can be seen to remove barriers. Us working in collaboration is very visible in the community because we’re out there going to the library, fire station and so on. It’s wonderful to see that we can come forward with a project like this to build cross community acceptance. Probably the greatest benefit of the project is looking at a generation of children that are being brought up to accept all children, all forms of society and I think maybe we’re helping to form a better generation.”