An innovative new cross-border parenting programme has been launched in Derry.
The new ‘Shaping Ourselves and Our Children’ (SOOC) programme is supported by the EU’s PEACE IV programme and managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).
SOOC was developed by the Lifestart Foundation and its partners - Lifestart Services Ltd, Sligo Family Support Centre, the Dunluce Family Centre, Barnardos and The Junction.
The launch took place at The Junction, Bishop Street, on Thursday last and guest speakers included Dr Sarah Millar, Senior Lecturer Queens University, Gina McIntyre, CEO of the SEUPB and Maria MacInnes, Child and Family Agency. Peter Walker, Social Inclusion Unit, Health Service Executive and Dr Pauline Mc Clenaghan, Executive Director Lifestart Foundation Ltd, also addressed those gathered for the event.
The event was chaired by Ursula Birthistle, who chairs the SOOC project cross-community Steering Group.
The SOOC programme aims to support parents of young children to create a home conducive to good child social and emotional development, inclusiveness and a respect for social and cultural diversity.
The project partners will deliver 240 interactive SOOC parenting programmes within nine areas of Northern Ireland and the Border Counties of the Republic of Ireland.
The recruitment of parents to the programme begins this month. 2,880 parents and their children from Protestant, Catholic, Black, Minority and Ethnic backgrounds will benefit from the participating in the SOOC programme.
Gina McIntyre, CEO of the SEUPB said: “The cycle of mistrust, division and fear can be passed from one generation to the next. This project will help to break that cycle by delivering a child development and cultural diversity programme, where parents will learn how their behaviours and parenting styles can impact upon their children’s development. What better way to deliver upon one of the core objectives of the PEACE Programme than to support people affected by the legacy of the conflict. The project will ensure that children learn from their parents to embrace difference and diversity,” she continued.