Divided city project in Strabane and Donegal

Pupils from schools in Strabane, Lifford and Raphoe watch the stories they created at a Showcase event held in Strabane Library.
Pupils from schools in Strabane, Lifford and Raphoe watch the stories they created at a Showcase event held in Strabane Library.

Young people from schools in Raphoe, Strabane and Lifford have been involved in a cross-border schools community relations programme since November 2011. This project was supported by Strabane District and Donegal County Councils.

Delivered by the Verbal Arts Centre, The Divided City Project was designed to engage young people in a project that deals with the issues of sectarianism and racism while also encouraging literacy and skills in digital media.

Pupils from three schools who participated in a recent cross-community and cross-border programme facilitated by the Verbal Arts Centre ' Raphoe Central National School Pupils, Knockavoe School Strabane pupils and Scoil Mhuire Gan Sm�l pupils pictured with (from left to right) Amada Biega, Good Relations Officer, Stabane District Council and Sarah Thompson, Good Relations Officer, Donegal County Council who coordinated the event and Bridin Flanagan, Verbal Arts Centre who delivered the programme.

Pupils from three schools who participated in a recent cross-community and cross-border programme facilitated by the Verbal Arts Centre ' Raphoe Central National School Pupils, Knockavoe School Strabane pupils and Scoil Mhuire Gan Sm�l pupils pictured with (from left to right) Amada Biega, Good Relations Officer, Stabane District Council and Sarah Thompson, Good Relations Officer, Donegal County Council who coordinated the event and Bridin Flanagan, Verbal Arts Centre who delivered the programme.

The programme used Theresa Breslin’s novel “Divided City” as a way of exploring sectarianism with pupils in 5th and 6th class and years 8, 9 and 10. The novel explores traditional tensions between Protestant and Catholic football supporters in Glasgow whilst introducing the plight of asylum seekers.

In addition to developing skills in illustration and ICT the project was an effort to bring young people together on a cross-community and cross-border basis to meet and work with people who they may have a lot in common with but whom they may not necessarily have a chance to meet due to attending different schools, despite living close to each other.

Sarah Thompson, Good Relations Officer with Donegal County Council congratulated the groups on the work they have done and hope that the cross-community and cross-border links developed through this project will continu.

“I would like to thank all the pupils from the participating schools – Raphoe Central National School, Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál, Lifford and Knockavoe School, Strabane for their participation in the programme and also to thank the principals – Mrs Gibson, Mr Kilcoyne and Ms Mc Comish and teachers – Mrs Stewart, Ms Mc Gowan, Ms Wallace and Ms Mc Gonagle from these schools for working with Donegal County and Strabane District Council on the delivery of this project.

Pupils, staff and parents from Knockavoe School Strabane who received certificates for their participation in the See Me See You Programme, included in photograph are teachers Ms Wallace and Ms Mc Gonagle.

Pupils, staff and parents from Knockavoe School Strabane who received certificates for their participation in the See Me See You Programme, included in photograph are teachers Ms Wallace and Ms Mc Gonagle.

“Finally, I would like to thank Bridin Flanagan and all of the facilitators from the Verbal Arts Centre who assisted in the delivery of this programme” Ms Thompson said.

The students were able to make digital stories, including recording the voiceovers with the Sound Engineer in a working recording studio and adding titles, credits and transitions to the illustrations which they created with the help of local author and illustrator Trisha Deery, who had her first children’s book “Miss Rosie Red”.

The pupils then came together for a showcase of their work in the Alley Theatre Strabane last week, and to see their edited stories for the first time, receive their certificates and share their thoughts on the programme.

This project has been supported by the PEACE III Programme, managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by Donegal County Council and has received funding from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

For further details of events being run as part of thess initiatives please contact Sarah Thompson, Good Relations Officer, Donegal County Council on (074) 9172586 or sthompson@donegalcoco.ie or Elaine Semple, Good Relations Officer at Strabane District Council on (048) 71382204 or ewatson@strabanedc.com