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Four schools ‘Shared’ Education event

100 pupils enjoy Peace IV ‘Value of Me’ Project celebration at Oakgrove

One hundred Year 9 pupils from four local schools celebrated the close of their Peace IV-funded ‘The Value of Me’ project at Oakgrove Integrated College on Tuesday morning where their shared education project was based on the theme of ‘Positive Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing.’

The four - Oakgrove, St Joseph’s, Foyle College and St Patrick’s and St Brigid’s, Claudy worked together over the past two years on the Shared Education project designed by the school principals.

Principal of Oakgrove Integrated College, Mrs Katrina Crilly, in welcoming the students, staff and parents set about explaining why she prized the project title: “I love the name of this shared education venture, “The Value of Me”, because you [the pupils] are so important to your family, your school, your community and you have a lot to teach the adults. You are the future.”

Student representatives from each of the schools then took to the stage to explain what the shared education experience meant to them with Dylan, from St Joseph’s Boys School, describing how his visit to The Human Library had made such an impact on him.

Dylan said: “The Human Library is a group of people from different backgrounds, who told us their stories about their life experiences. I learnt how different their lives are when compared to ours. For example, I met a man from Southern Africa who lived in very hard conditions. He later moved to England to complete training and school work. He is now living in Derry under very different circumstances. He described the vast changes in weather here, the currency and the people of the North. This gave me a new perspective about diversity and the challenges many people around the world must overcome.”

Lukas Lynch, from Oakgrove College, reiterated this message by stating: “The Human library is like a library, only you “borrow” a person rather than a book. It was a chance to get to hear the story of people from lots of different places and backgrounds and was really interesting. The idea is that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover – you should get to know the story, or their journey, first.”

The children also had display boards in the assembly hall showing pictures of happy faces; pupils mixing together, wearing different school uniforms and some of the quotes from pupils on these showed that many of them had moved out of their comfort zone – trying new activities, working with other teenagers they previously did not know and acquiring new skills.

Julie Ballantyne and Fionnvola McCaul, the Shared Education link teachers from Oakgrove and St Joseph’s, welcomed the funding from Peace IV for this kind of activity.

Julie said: “Without this funding, our schools would never be able to run a project like this. The pupils have got so much out of this. We have had workshops on hope, resilience, positive thinking, memory skills, healthy relationships and diversity. They have had the opportunity to do outdoor pursuits and water-based activities, which neither the schools nor many of the families would maybe have been able to treat them to. The students have made new friendships; ones that would not have otherwise happened.

The event concluded with a circus skills workshops, facilitated by ‘In Your Space’ and a delicious lunch and celebration cake hosted by Oakgrove Integrated College.