I have worked within the Greater Shankill Area for a number of years now and can recognise and identify the particular problems unique to this community. The area has had its fair share of social and economic deprivation and often there is negative attitudes and low expectations of education with a gulf between families and the education process. There is also a lack of pre-school provision in outlying areas.
As a Child Development Officer I am initially required to co-ordinate and develop all the child care and child centered elements of the Early Years Project. The principal objectives of my work are:
- to be responsible for the co-ordination and development of quality child care within the projects.
- to develop opportunities and experiences for the parents to assist them to fulfill and enjoy their parenting roles.
One of the first projects I initiated was the 'Easter Scheme' programme which was delivered to the participating children by a qualified teacher and play workers and embraced the concept of intermingling education and fun. Through the media of art, craft and the performing arts the children were offered worldwide geographical, historical and cultural facts in an educational and enjoyable environment.
Sports was also on offer and some of the children achieved swimming certificates for completing 1,500 meters (1 mile) and 750 meters (1/2 mile). This provided a real boost of confidence for the children especially for those who swam for the first time. This pilot scheme has been successfully extended to encompass all school holidays, when parents often have problems finding suitable child care
I believe that the Early Years Project can and will make a difference within the Greater Shankill Area by providing the opportunities and positive action, which will promote the strengths of the area and the interests of its people.
Child Development Officer