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The Sharing from the Start project involved early years settings throughout Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland forming cross-community and/or cross-border partnerships.
The Sharing from the Start project involved early years settings throughout Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland forming cross-community and/or cross-border partnerships. The children took part in joint curricular classes to improve their educational outcomes and promote good relations. Funding was being used to enable pre-schools to take part in shared education projects improving educational outcomes and cross-community cohesion, inclusion and diversity. The project was led by Early Years, in collaboration with the National Childhood Network and the Fermanagh Trust.
Research has shown that children develop prejudices from an early age, which further highlights the need for shared education to improve community relations. The Sharing from the Start project placed a strong emphasis on developing and deepening reconciliation between divided communities, increase tolerance and respect and increase social cohesion.
Speaking at the project launch Siobhan Fitzpatrick, former Chief Executive Officer, Early Years said
All the research shows that helping children understand the importance of enjoying good relations with friends from different communities is critical to building stronger, better communities both now and into the future. We are very excited about the Sharing from the Start Project. We believe it will contribute significantly to the Shared Education agenda and our objective of making sharing a reality for all preschool children in Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of Ireland.
Eileen Owens, leader at Loughinisland Playgroup commented:
Through Sharing from The Start we have been able to have these exciting opportunities for the children where they have learned so much and had lots of fun along the way.
Judy McSherry leader at Crossgar Pre-school added:
It’s great for the children to make so many new friends and by working together we are able to do so much more and learn from each other. We are so encouraged as well by the support of parents and the wider community.
Quote from a parent:
This is a very worthwhile project. Teaching children from a young age that we are all different, but we are all the same. Even though they don’t realise now, the learning will kick in as they grow and develop.