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Children from 11 Nationalities enjoy ‘Kids Cruise’ Summer Scheme

Over 100 children from 11 different nationalities participated in a summer scheme delivered by CIP at Presentation Primary School in Portadown during the first week in July. This is the third year that the scheme has operated and attracted its highest number of children. Children took part in a wide range of activities which included, sport, art, group challenges, a day trip to Newcastle, film and DJ workshops and interactive games. Rather than just providing a week of fun for the children the scheme aimed at developing cross-cultural friendships and raising the confidence of children to work together.

The activities, all linked to the ‘Kids Cruise’ theme, were supported by the Good Relations Dept of Craigavon Borough Council and had a strong integration emphasis. In addition to 11 nationalities being represented, 25% of the children were from the indigenous community. Another interesting feature of the scheme was that 18 volunteers, mostly from ethnic backgrounds, helped in the delivery of the highly successful summer scheme. For many it was their first opportunity to be involved in such an experience and judging from the comments received the volunteers are keen to be involved again. Beata from Poland said, ‘Every night I went home exhausted, but very satisfied that I could be part of such an opportunity.’

Most of the children involved in Kids Cruise were drawn from the two After- School Clubs that Craigavon Intercultural Programme delivers both at the Oasis Youth and Family Life Centre in Portadown and in Brownlow in Central Craigavon. One of the children commented "Thank you very, very much for the summer scheme, I really enjoyed it, it was so much fun and I won't forget it and I hope you will have a nice summer holiday" Another said, ‘I made a lot of new friends’

Commenting on the experience, Andrew McCreery, CIP’s Youth Inclusion officer said, "We have been greatly encouraged by the willingness of children and their parents to participate in programmes such as Oasis, we were especially pleased to see an increased involvement at our summer scheme by members of the local community this year to compliment the ethnic minority groups we traditionally work with. Despite negative headlines around racism and sectarianism in our town, we believe there are significant groups of people in all communities who are willing to engage in these collective social activities."

Andrew was assisted in the delivery of the summer scheme by Gordon Woolsey, CIP Youth Worker, who is responsible for the development of integration projects for BME children and youth in Central Craigavon. Both staff members are supported by BBC Children in Need.

Craigavon Intercultural Programme would like to thank Craigavon Borough Council, SELB Youth Service, BBC Children in Need, Presentation Primary School and the various facilitators for their contribution to this successful project. We are also indebted to the volunteers who performed such a commendable service and thank them for their assistance.