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Our Place Project Finale held at Duncairn Arts Centre

Wednesday 22nd June 2022 at 12pm 0 Comments

Writers in Schools Northern Ireland this week celebrated the poetry and stories of children and young people through the Our Place project 2021-22. The project offered approximately 300 children and young people the opportunity to engage in writing residencies where they worked alongside a writer and explored themes of place and shared spaces. The Our Place Project was made possible through the support of the Reconciliation Fund (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The Reconciliation Fund has been supporting Poetry Ireland and peace-building and reconciliation themed writer residencies in schools in Northern Ireland since 2016.

The finale event, held at the Duncairn Arts Centre in North Belfast (Tuesday 21st June), featured readings and performances from children who participated in the programme, along with music and stories from renowned storyteller and songwriter Len Graham. The Our Place programme saw writers and storytellers Frank Galligan, Sheena Wilkinson, Deirdre Cartmill and Pat Ryan working with children from St Teresa’s PS Belfast, Upper Ballyboley PS Ballyclare, Glengormley High School, John Paul II PS Belfast, Grange PS, St Mary’s PS Enniskillen, Fane Street PS Belfast, Star of the Sea PS Belfast, and Holy Family PS Belfast.

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature and Drama at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The Arts Council is delighted to once again this year be involved in this wonderful project which connects artists and schools, inspiring them to take a creative approach to learning and literacy, as well as giving children the self-confidence to develop their own artistic voices. Today’s event has been a real celebration, an opportunity for participating schools to come together to share their work. We congratulate all of those who have taken part in this year’s programme!”

Here is some of the feedback from teachers and writers involved in the project:

“The children were highly engaged throughout. They were visibly enjoying themselves during the session and were disappointed for it to end.”

“The children really worked hard, were engaged all the time, and came up with some great stories. The teacher said she got a lot of ideas for classroom writing, teaching creative writing, managing the classroom when doing oral and written creative work.”

“We, as a school, have a major focus on wellbeing and the sessions really supported this - the children enjoyed themselves and were able to be creative in a relaxed and informal environment.”

“The activities relating to the senses, which encouraged children to think of how to extend their descriptions beyond just sight were very effective. It helped the children to really stretch their writing and think more creatively.”

“This project is of immense benefit to the increasing number of schools who have pupils from diverse background and for whom, English is not their first language.”

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