The MIFC (Media Initiative for Children) Respecting Difference Programme is an intervention programme aimed at improving long term outcomes so that children, practitioners/teachers, parents and communities become more aware of diversity and difference issues and positively change attitudes and behaviours to those who are different.
Over ninety staff involved in the Sharing from the Start Project attended training on The Media Initiative for Children Respecting Difference programme. Including the partnerhship pictured, Bees Nees Early Years Centre and St Finnian’s Preschool Newtonwards who have been implementing the programme and finding how well it complements their shared sessions together.
It was developed by Early Years and Pii the Peace Initiatives Institute in the USA and combines cartoon media messages around diversity with an early years programme. Together they aim to promote positive attitudes to physical, social and cultural differences amongst young children, practitioners and parents. The messages also address bullying behaviours.
The messages in the cartoons are reinforced in the early years setting through the use of resources and interactive activities that prompt children to talk about their feelings and attitudes to the issues explored in the cartoons.
The use of interactive activities in the training provided opportunities for practitioners to reflect on their own values, attitudes and prejudices. It also enabled the exploration of MIFC resources, with time for participants to reflect on how the materials could be used to enhance the NI and ROI preschool curriculum and to support the implementation of their shared sessions.
The MIFC is an evidence- based intervention programme aimed at improving long term outcomes, so that children, staff, parents and communities become more aware of diversity and difference issues, with the anticipated outcome being that ‘young children will respect those who are different’. The implementation of this programme in the 45 nursery and preschool settings is enhancing the outcomes currently being promoted by the Sharing from the Start, ‘to improve educational outcomes and cross-community cohesion, inclusion and diversity through Shared Education’.