Ballymena Nurseries – embracing difference and celebrating sameness

Ballymena Nursery, Castle Tower Nursery and First Steps Playgroup have been working together on the ‘Sharing From The Start’ project.

Sharing From The Start is supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. Funding enables pre-schools to take part in Shared Education projects improving educational outcomes and cross-community cohesion, inclusion and diversity. A number of neighbouring pre-school partnerships have been developed throughout Northern Ireland and the Southern Border Counties.

The three settings worked very well together and their curriculum focus was Personal Social and Emotional Development. As early years settings only have one year together they decided to work around emotional development as it is central to pre-school education. Feedback received back from parents was excellent.

For one of their sessions earlier this year they visited Ballymena Town Hall to engage in their EMBRACE activities of cultural music, dressing up, music, dance, story telling and craft making. The children enjoyed a range of activities at The Braid to celebrate Chinese New Year. They listened to traditional stories, made paper lanterns, danced with fans and played their own music.

This typified what they did over the weeks of embracing differences and celebrating sameness. The children genuinely made friendships and looked forward to their friends visiting. Staff are looking forward to working together again in the future.

Administered by Early Years, working in collaboration with the Fermanagh Trust and National Childhood Network, the Sharing From The Start project aims to engage almost 10,000 pre-school children in shared activities on an ongoing and sustained basis. Together these three organisations have a strong track record and over twenty years experience of working for the benefit of children and community relations.