‘Shaping Ourselves and Our Children’ project a great success

Some of the local parents who have taken part.
Some of the local parents who have taken part.

Hundreds of people have taken part in a new course helping parents and other adults understand how they can help their child’s development in the home and the community.

The ‘Shaping Ourselves and Our Children’(SOOC) project said the rollout of the cross-border initiative has been a great success with 650 people having completed it and 99% saying they would recommend the course to anyone who is a mum, dad, grandparent or anyone who wants to know how to support children.

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SOOC is supported by the EU’s PEACE IV Programme and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body, and was developed by the Lifestart Foundation and its partners - Lifestart Services CGL, Sligo Family Support Centre, the Dunluce Family Centre, Barnardos Strabane and The Junction in Derry.

SOOC examines how the language parents and grandparents use impacts on how a child sees themselves and others in the community.

It helps parents understand how a child’s self-esteem and confidence is shaped at home. 
SOOC also provides tuition and resources on key topics around communication, empathy, behaviour, play and diversity. It is run over four days and parents can get support with babysitting costs and lunch or supper depending on the time of the course. 
SOOC has 30 trained facilitators with two facilitating each course. Derry-based Lynn said: “Of the groups I have worked with one stands out in terms of understanding child development within the course. These mums gained in confidence and parenting skills. They found participating in the course easy as childcare was paid for. They now realise the impact that parents, as role models, have on their own children and are determined to instil an openness and acceptance of others in their children.”

Many parents believe that SOOC has been hugely beneficial to them. As one parent remarked: “This course was a big eye-opener for me!”

SOOC will continue for another two years and the course is free and open to anyone who has a child in their life as well as breastfeeding, parent and toddlers and dads support groups, Men’s Shed etc. There will be SOOCs held in September and people can contact Mary on 028 71 365 363 or email mary.holmes@lifestartfoundation.org for more information.

Match-funding for this project has been provided by the Executive Office in Northern Ireland and the Department of Rural and Community Development in the Republic of Ireland.