Children and staff of First Steps Pre-School, Killen and Sugar and Spice Early Years, Drumquin have been having fun and learning together in a number of shared education sessions with the ‘Sharing From The Start’ project.
The two pre-schools came together at Omagh Library where the children enjoyed rhyme and story time and arts and crafts. They’ve been playing together at each other’s settings and they had a special event by Ink Wing Academy involving activities around the story of ‘The Gruffalo’.
‘Sharing From The Start’ is a project supported 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.
Ruby Smith, leader of First Steps said “This is an exciting experience for the children. We’re seeing friendships develop and they’re getting so confident exploring each other’s pre-schools. They’re always eager to visit each other and they love to welcome their new friends. For the staff it’s a great opportunity to share resources and experiences.” Bernadette McCrossan, leader of Sugar and Spice Playgroup added “It’s always such fun meeting up with our buddies in First Steps. Feedback from parents is very positive and the children really enjoy it. From story time, to arts and crafts and outdoor play, it’s great for them to enjoy these curriculum based activities.”
Administered by Early Years, working in collaboration with the National Childhood Network and the Fermanagh Trust, the project aims to engage almost 10,000 pre-school children in shared activities on ongoing and sustained basis by 2022. Together these three organisations have a strong track record and over twenty years experience of working for the benefit of children and community relations development.
Audrey Rainey (Early Years), programme manager of ‘Sharing From The Start’ commented “We are very excited to see our project underway and work like this taking place. Well done to all the staff, children and parents at Killen and Drumquin. This is a fantastic opportunity to bring about positive attitudinal change among children, parents, teachers and the wider community. It will implement purposeful, direct and sustained curriculum based contact, improving educational outcomes and community relations.”