Children from Newtowncunningham Community Playgroup, Co Donegal and Rainbow Child and Family Centre, Derry have been getting into the Christmas spirit, putting together shoeboxes full of toys and gifts as part of the Team Hope Christmas Shoebox Appeal. The two playgroups have been working together as part of the Sharing From The Start programme.
The ‘Sharing From The Start’ programme is supported by the European Union’s Peace IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body. It involves early years settings throughout Northern Ireland and the Southern Border counties forming cross-community partnerships, and the children taking part in joint curricular classes, improving educational outcomes and promoting good relations.
Carrie Tracey from Rainbow Child and Family Centre said “Our two settings see so many benefits in partnering together. The children are making new friendships, we are making new community links and we’re able to take part in projects like this. We thought the shoebox appeal would be nice to do together, teaching children from a young age the joy of giving and the importance of helping those less fortunate.”
Almost 100 shoeboxes, thanks to the generosity of the playgroups’ children and their families, will be sent to those affected by poverty and conflict in Africa and Eastern Europe, spreading joy and excitement to children in difficult situations. Before making up their boxes, the children had a chance to watch a video showing where their gifts will go and the difference it will make for children who normally would never get a shoebox, or a present at any time of the year.
Theresa McGrath from Newtowncunningham Community Playgroup added “This is our third year taking part in Sharing From The Start. As a cross border partnership we learn a lot from each other and the different ways of doing things. From visiting each other we’ve been able to share ideas for the development of our outdoor spaces. So there are wider benefits, not only for the children but the staff and parents as well. We’re all very much looking forward to taking part in many more educational activities this year.”
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 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.
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