Steelstown Nursery, Co L’Derry and Raphoe Community Playgroup, Co Donegal, are in their third year of the Sharing from the Start programme. Staff from this cross-border partnership have observed and reflected on the positive impact the shared education experience has had on their children, parents, staff and the wider community. Ms. Rabbett, from Steelstown nursery stated ‘I believe these shared outings are a great benefit for all the children coming together and respecting each other and their environments…..It is great to see the children interacting and sharing their space, and remembering their friends names that they played with in Raphoe…….staff have been able to share different ideas and experiences with each other’.
In March this year the partnership facilitated, what would be, their final session of 2019-2020. It was a cold and wet morning, but the sense of community spirit shone through. The children played with one another in the playground, with many pockets of friendship evident. The staff teams were confident interacting and organising the logistics of the session and the numbers of parents, grandparents and local community congregating at the gates waiting for the parade to begin was overwhelming.
The parade was led by a formal pupil Alan Goudie from the Raphoe Ulster Scots Pipe Band, playing traditional Irish music on the bagpipes. The children particularly liked having a Garda escort with blue flashing lights. Many thanks to our local Garda sergeant, Alan Goudie, All the children, parents, grandparents, and friends of the school for a very enjoyable event, despite the very wintry weather. The session provided an opportunity for children to celebrate the feast of St Patricks day. They could also see first-hand the work of the people in the local community as they completed the parade around the diamond.
Parental involvement is an important part of the Sharing from the Start programme, it provides parents with opportunities to be involved in activities within their child’s setting. Tara Moore attended this session with her daughter and expressed her delight at being able to participate, “it’s been a wonderful experience. My daughter lights up when we speak about her trips to Raphoe. She now recognises “DON –E DOLL” (Donegal) and is much more interested in Geography and the differences and similarities between Derry and Donegal. I feel the real benefit of programme/project is the sharing of space and “territory”, building their confidence in new, unfamiliar surroundings. Being hospitable and getting excited about new people and experiences is so important – perhaps now more than ever!’
I’ve been involved in this programme for the last 3 years and have participated in every outing from the start. Most children tend to live in their own little world and I believe these shared outings are a great benefit for all the children coming together and respecting each other and their environments. The children mix and play together and for most of them it provides a different experience outside of their daily routine. It is great to see the children interacting and sharing their space, and remembering their friends names that they played with in Raphoe . Also I believe it is so beneficial for all the adults involved as we also get to meet lovely people and we also gain as we share different ideas and experiences with each other.
Marie Rabbett – Nursery Assistant – Steelstown
For the last 3 years we as a staff and community have had great days out with our friends in Raphoe – our children have got to experience so many different events and share this with new faces who quickly become “our friends”. We look forward to every trip and in particular the parade for St Patrick’s Day. All the children loved walking behind the piper and the Garda escort with flashing lights created a lot of excitement. It was nice to watch the children sing songs and dance together as we celebrated, ate our lunches together and played in Raphoe’s welcoming setting. We are already looking forward to our next outing !!
Mary Mc Laughlin –Nursery Teacher –Steelstown
Some comments from Children:-
“I liked the flags and the bus and the slide in Raphoe”
“I like the bus and playing with the mud kitchen- My walk was too far and it was wet”
“I liked the bees and butterflies in the tray. I played with my friends at Raphoe”
“ I got to sit in the Garda car and saw lots of cars too. My mummy came too.”
“I liked the teacher singing Molly Malone and the walk around the town “
“ I love playing outside on the scooters that have one wheel”