CRIS has delivered three Peace-Building Family Residential Programmes so far in 2015 with over 130 participants from the Cookstown, Antrim and North Belfast Areas. Each residential was held at the Corrymeela Centre in Ballycastle and supported by the Corrymeela Volunteers. All three residential programmes were fantastically attended by parents, carers, pupils and staff from:
- Cookstown Nursery School and Holy Trinity Nursery Unit, Cookstown.
- Steeple and St Joseph’s Nursery Schools, Antrim.
- Holy Cross and Edenderry Nursery Schools, Belfast.
CRIS’s family Community Relations residential programme is widely recognised as an example of outstanding peace-building practice. Over the last decade CRIS has developed and honed its family residential programme. We have delivered dozens of cross-community family residentials with nursery, primary and special school partners from right across Northern Ireland during this time.
Each residential programme has a focus on building and nurturing relationships, developing confidence, making positive memories, storytelling, listening, togetherness, community, peace, rest and hope. The programme is delivered in partnership with school staff and offers a number of very closely linked strands. These include:
- Children’s Programme – children spend time in their shared classroom, exploring themes including friendship and respect. Activities include arts and crafts, circle time, free play, songs and games. They also spend time taking part in adventure learning, using beautiful outdoor spaces to develop confidence and have fun!
- Adults’ Programme – adults spend time in their own dedicated space exploring themes including relationship building, identity and personal and community storytelling. Activities include small group work, debates and personal reflection time. An emphasis is placed on creating space to listen and be heard. Each programme is tailored to meet the specific Community Relations interests and needs of the group – themes include ‘identity’, ‘culture’, ‘history’, ‘flags, symbols and emblems’ and ‘shared future’.
- Shared Family Programme – a focus on positive memory-making is provided through plenty of shared family experiences. These include arts and crafts activities, treasure hunts, songs and games, shared meals and a trip to the beach!
All residential programmes are delivered as part of a longer-term investment in Community Relations with the partner schools. CRIS works closely with its school partners to establish their particular hopes and needs. Each residential programme begins with a pre-residential workshop for participating parents/ carers and includes a post-residential celebration and evaluation evening.