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Early Years - New Horizon Project

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The ‘New Horizons’ Programme was a five month programme which aimed at assisting BME families and their children integrate into life in the Craigavon area. The initiative was supported by the Southern Childcare Partnership and offered participants a range of positive experiences that were welcomed by the diverse groups which benefited from the activities.

Commenting on the Programme, Hetty Smith, the CIP Ethnic Family Inclusion Officer, stated, ‘Over the past year CIP has been attempting to respond to the developing family concerns of ethnic groups, with the support of the Southern Childcare Partnership we were able to enhance our current services to ethnic families and also pilot a number of new initiatives: such as the provision of a child-minding course for an international group of 14 women delivered by NICMA and the launch of a new International Afterschool club in the Brownlow Area of Craigavon that was attended by around 20 children each week’.

Most of the activities were delivered at the CIP Oasis Youth and Family Life Centre in Portadown and enjoyed a high level of participation and interest. Rather than focusing on one nationality the activities were intercultural in nature and enhanced the creation of new cross-cultural friendships and developed the English skills of users. Through working with different cultures participants commented that they had developed a wider ‘world view’ and had become more understanding of other cultures. Women from 12 different cultures benefited from support sessions for women, parents and toddlers in a space which had been enhanced with new equipment from the Programme. The highlight for the women was International Women’s Day when the ladies presented their cultures at the Meadows Shopping Centre in Portadown in March.

‘New Horizons’ also delivered a pilot 10 week sporting opportunity in Brownlow for 9- 11year olds. This has now developed into a permanent programme and runs alongside the new International After-school Club in the area. Other beneficiaries were the three Saturday schools that operate in the area for Polish and Lithuanian children. Volunteer teachers were delighted with the provision of craft material that allowed them to offer recreational and educational activities for a total of 54 children.

In all 145 parents and 181 children participated in the group activities offered by New Horizons. An interesting development from the Programme has been the number of ethnic women that have become volunteers with CIP and now provide a valuable input into our International Afterschool Clubs and Women’s groups. The Programme laid to the delivery of an international summer scheme in July at Presentation Primary School in Portadown when 118 children and 18 volunteers were incorporated into a successful week of activities delivered by CIP staff.