Announcing Kids’ Own’s 25th Anniversary Conference: 25th November, the Model, Sligo New Kids’ Own Publication | Kind Hearts Children Who Foster Big Little Library Video Global Goals Week Tommy Flavin joins the Board of Kids’ Own Meeting our Arts in Education Portal Manager: Edel Doherty Culture Night Sligo 2022 A-Z Alphabet of Actions Foldout Publication Meet our Operations Manager: Emma Kavanagh Meet our Digital Marketing Officer: Katie Whelan “Right by Us” Project Video Kids’ Own “Love is Love” book radio Interview Meet our Project Manager: Lorna Kavanagh The Green Futures Project Kids’ Own Appoints New CEO and Creative Director Kids’ Own launches new book “Love is Love” by young people from Sligo and Leitrim Foldout Publication on A-Z Early Literacy Project coming soon!

Opportunity: Project Manager for the Arts in Education Portal

Kids’ Own is delighted to invite applications for the role of Project Manager for the Arts in Education Portal (part-time).

Reporting to the Kids’ Own CEO, the Project Manager will work very closely with other members of the Kids’ Own team and the Arts in Education Portal Editorial Committee to manage the Arts In Education Portal (www.artsineducation.ie)

This is a very exciting opportunity for a dynamic community-minded individual with excellent digital skills and event management skills combined to lead the management of the Arts in Education Portal as it enters into a new phase of strategic development.

Launched in 2015, the Arts in Education Portal is the key national digital resource of arts and education practice in Ireland. The ethos for the Portal is about building a community of practice within arts and creativity in education, and providing a space—both online and offline—where artists and teachers can be supported and inspired. It provides a platform through which good collaboration practice in arts-in-education and arts education will be supported, developed and enhanced.

The specifications of the role are set out below.

 

Key Responsibilities

The Project Manager for the Arts in Education Portal will be responsible for managing all aspects of the Arts in Education Portal, including but not limited to:

 

 

The successful applicant will have:

 

 

Desirable:

 

Terms of contract:

This is a part-time post (3 days p/week). An initial contract of 9 months will be offered, subject to extension. There will be a probationary period of 6 weeks.

Annual remuneration: €33,000–35,000 DOE. (pro-rata)

Applications:

Candidates should send a detailed CV and cover letter to Kids’ Own Creative Director,

Ciara Gallagher at: [email protected] by Weds 13th July, 5pm

Creative workshops

We were delighted to facilitate some creative workshops with young people who are active with Down Syndrome Sligo, Mayo and Leitrim this May.

Community Publishing Initiative

We have spent a fantastic few days engaging with schools in Dublin to make books. This project with school children took part in Coolock, Cabra and Ballyfermot libraries.

Young Writers’ Podcast!

We are delighted to announce that our Young Writers’ Group is currently producing a podcast!

Teacher – Artist Partnership (TAP) Special Initiative videos

We are delighted to launch a video series developed as part of a special initiative created in partnership with the Teacher-Artist Partnership (TAP) Programme.

Deadline Extension: Digital Marketing Officer (part-time)

Kids’ Own is delighted to invite applications for the role of Digital Marketing Officer (part-time).

The Digital Marketing Officer will work closely with other team members to support the marketing activities of Kids’ Own.

The specifications of the role are set out below.

Key Responsibilities

Reporting to the Digital Content Manager and CEO, duties will include, but not be limited to:

Essential requirements

Applicants must have:

Requisite skills

It is desired that the successful applicant would have:

 

Applications

To make an application, candidates should send a detailed cover letter outlining suitability and motivation for the role, along with a current CV to:

Jo Holmwood, Creative Director, Kids’ Own: [email protected]

Deadline for applications is 5pm, Wednesday 1st June 2022.

Terms

This is a part-time role (3 days p/week) with an initial contract of 9 months, with a view to extension.

Salary: €30,000 (pro-rata)

Liz Coman joins the Board of Kids’ Own

Our most recent appointment to the Kids’ Own Board is Liz Coman, who joined at the end of 2021. We are delighted to have Liz join our Board and contribute her skills and expertise to our organisation.

Liz Coman is an Assistant Arts Officer with Dublin City Council and a Visual Arts Education Curator. Liz has a Masters in History of Art and in Museum Studies, with a focus on public programming. She has led trainings in enquiry led approaches to mediating artwork for visual art facilitators in The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, The National Gallery of Ireland, and The Turner Prize, Derry and offers ongoing mentorship for individual artists and educators. She is a certified Visual Thinking Strategies facilitator with VTS/USA and has completed training to coaching level. She is responsible for leading two Strategic Partnership Erasmus+ projects for Dublin City Council – Permission to Wonder – testing the VTS training pathway with educators in classrooms and gallery settings in six partner countries – and – Looking to Understand Inclusion – testing how image selection can support social inclusion practices in classrooms, galleries and local communities. Liz is writer of the first Arts, Education and Learning Policy for Dublin City Council and through her work at the arts office, she designs and evaluates supports for artists – including awards, bursaries and studio spaces. A key aspect of her role is to grow resources through strategic partnerships and budget management by being alert to funding opportunities based on an extensive knowledge of local, national and international funding infrastructure.

Job Opportunity: Kids’ Own seeks Project Manager (part-time)

Kids’ Own has an exciting opportunity for an experienced individual to lead on the ongoing delivery of our collaborative initiatives with children and young people.

Job Opportunity: Kids’ Own seeks Operations Manager (part-time)

Kids’ Own is now seeking to appoint an Operations Manager to support the smooth running of all of our operational activities.

Splash of Blue

We’d like to share this colourful resource for teachers that we created last year in partnership with Mayo Arts Service and St Angela’s National School, Castlebar.

Our new Child Safeguarding Policy

Over the last year, we have been working hard to update our Child Safeguarding Policy to ensure that it reflects our child-centred ethos.

Celebrating 25 years of Kids’ Own Publishing!

Over the last quarter of a century, we have connected 1000s children with professional artists and published the work that they create.

New researchers Tamsin Cavaliero & Susan McDonnell

They will be measuring the impact of our Our Lives, Our Voices project on participants from a rights-based perspective.

Kids’ Own present at DICE Conference

In a session titled ‘Traveller Voices in Irish Education’, we spoke about a series of books created by Traveller children and their community.

Open call for new Board members

We are seeking expressions of interest from potential new members who want to join our exciting team on a voluntary basis and help to make a difference in children’s lives.

Really Here: virtual artist-in-residence project

In this collaborative arts project, Kids’ Own Associate Artists Ann Henderson, Ann Donnelly and Sharon Kelly are working creatively with schools in Northern Ireland on a weekly basis.

Climate action resource back from printers

This A2-size poster is packed with ideas for the classroom in which children can engage with their local area and themes of climate action.

Right by us: New project with young people

This project looks at EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child which was launched recently.

Wonderful evening with our Young Writers

A big thank you to everybody who shared their work over the evening, and also to Susanna Galbraith for all her kind words and encouragement.

An Evening of Poetry & Prose with Young Writers

Taking place online on Thursday 13th January 2022 at 7pm. Book your place now!

Kids’ Own seeks new CEO/Creative Director

The Board of Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership are seeking to appoint a CEO / Creative Director. Deadline: 5pm, 19th January 2022.

Face to Face back from the printers

This book captures Sligo children’s stories about their experience of the pandemic and public health restrictions.

Children and Climate Action Project & Report

Read our collaborative report with Sligo Environmental Network here!

Hear Our Stories: New Wexford book project

We are very excited to start a new book project with children and young people from the Syrian community in Co. Wexford.

Our new writing mentor Mary Branley!

She will be supporting our new panel of writers and artists as they work on new projects this year.

TADA! children’s exhibition opens in Linenhall Arts Centre

We are delighted to invite you to TADA! which opens 3:30pm, Friday 22 Oct 2021 in the Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar, Co Mayo.

Welcoming Dr Bernadette Ní Áingléis as our new Education Advisor

Bernadette will develop new links and partnerships with schools, universities, and a diverse range of educational stakeholders

New project with Sligo Traveller Support Group’s Homework Club

This project raises awareness about the UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Kids’ Own wins £10,000 Movement for Good award!

We are one of 30 charities chosen by a panel of judges to receive £10,000 as part of the Ecclesiastical’s Movement for Good awards

Artist – writer training day in The Model

At the end of September, we met with all our new artists and writers for 2 days creative training

Kids’ Own seeks experienced Project Manager (maternity cover)

We are looking for somebody to lead on the delivery of collaborative projects with children from late November 2021 to mid–June 2022.

New book project with children and young people living in care

We recently worked in partnership with Sligo/Leitrim Home Youth Liaison Service with a series of creative workshops.

TADA! exhibition as part of Baboró International Festival for Children

This special exhibition runs from Monday 4 Oct to Sunday 17 Oct from 10.00 – 17.00 in the Galway Arts Centre.

Kids’ Own Seeks Researcher for New Publishing Project with Traveller and Roma Children and Young People

Deadline for applications: Midnight on Friday 15th October, 2021

Introducing our new artist and writer panel!

These 9 creatives will be working on collaborative book projects with young people and children all across Ireland.

Updates on our 2021 Young Writers Project!

Our Young Writers project is about to kick off again for autumn 2021 with more creative writing sessions, facilitated by Kids’ Own Associate Writer Mary Branley.

Join our A-Z project for young children in Sligo, Wednesday 25th August

Children aged 3-6 and their parent/guardian are invited to come and meet our Associate Artist Naomi Draper, to explore, play, and take part in some creative activities.

Education Advisor sought for an exciting fixed-term role with Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

We are recruiting an Education Advisor to develop and expand our links with teachers, schools, and academics starting in October 2021.

Introducing our Digital and Cultural Access for Children researcher: Dr Amy Hanna

We are excited to have Dr Amy Hanna as our new Independent Researcher into Digital and Cultural Access for Children in the Northwest.

LGBTQIA+ Book Project with Young People in Sligo and Leitrim

We were delighted to work with the SMILY LGBTQIA+ project on a special creative project for young people.

Teenagers in Sligo work on our Reinventions project!

See the upcycled artworks and toys created by Sligo teenagers for our Reinventions project

Highlights from Cruinniú na nÓg creative workshops

Creative workshops for young people facilitated by poets FeliSpeaks, Anthony Anaxagorou, Ella Frears and filmmaker Paul Mahon

New Climate Action Project with Children from Carns NS, Moneygold, Sligo

Kids’ Own was delighted to receive funds from Creative Ireland, Sligo, to embark on a new local initiative, exploring themes of climate action with 2nd–6th Class children at Carns NS, Moneygold, Co. Sligo. Creative Director Jo Holmwood, and visual artist Vanya Lambrecht Ward have been working with 21 children through dialogue and creative activity, with a particular focus on water, as a central element representing the interconnectedness of global and climate change issues.

Over two sessions, the group engaged in lots of discussion about water and identified questions that they would like to investigate through individual research. They also took a walk to nearby Milk Harbour, and created beautiful artworks using inks with ice; and inks with salt and water.

This small-scale initiative was an exploration into ways of supporting children to engage with climate change and have their voices heard on this important issue. Kids’ Own will develop a poster or manifesto to present some of the ideas and thinking that the children developed through this process.

We hope to build on this in the future, so that more children can take part in similar processes that support them to engage with climate action through research and dialogue, observation, localised actions and creative activity, to build a bigger body of work that can share their voices, ideas and artwork with a wider audience on this topic.

Through the project, we also engaged Dr. Connie Nell from Sligo Environmental Network to develop some research into children’s role as climate activists, the impact of supporting children’s voices to be heard on this issue, and the value of creative approaches in supporting children’s engagement with climate change and climate action.

A-Z and Back Again Project

Hear about our arts-rich process of exploration at home for Early Years children

Callout: Exciting training opportunity for artists and writers interested in working with children and young people. Kids’ Own working on Teacher-Artist Partnership Special Initiative Kids’ Own announces next phase of Young Writers’ 2021 Kids’ Own hosts Cruinniu na nÓg Events in partnership with Creative Donegal, Sligo County Library, and Leitrim Libraries Kids’ Own launches Can’t Lose Cant! Kids’ Own invites you to the launch of Can’t Lose Cant

Join us for the launch of Can’t Lose Cant with Senator Eileen Flynn, Oein De Bhairduin and more

Welcome to the Board Naomi!

Naomi Feely is an experienced social researcher and policy analyst with over 15 years experience working in the public, not-for-profit and private sectors in Ireland.

Kids’ Own launches On the Brink!

A new publication of short stories and poems by young writers from Derry/Londonderry and Letterkenny

CALL OUT: Independent Researcher for Scoping Study

Researcher needed to study how our child-led, child-centred model of engagement with professional artists can be brought to children and young people.

Welcome to the team Róisín!

Róisín is a third year English and Media student and will be with us for the next 4 months.

Letter writing workshops for Human Rights Day!

Read some of the letters our participants wrote!

Our Big Book of Sligo!

Read about our new project gathering children’s stories about their experience of 2020.

Take Action: Write a Letter!

Check out our letter template which folds into an origami-style envelope!

UN Eradication of Poverty project

Read about our creative sessions with young people from Foróige CRIB project and Sligo Comhairle na nÓg.

Our childrens’ book panel reviews are in!

We have set up a team of book reviewers with children from all over Ireland.

A to Z and back again reprint

We are delighted to announce that we will be reprinting our much-loved classic!

LGBTQI+ callout for participants

We are looking for participants for a new creative writing and art project – no experience needed!

Foróige Leitrim’s health & wellbeing project

This project allows young people to have their voices heard on the issues that matter to them, as well as having a positive creative experience that they lead and develop.  

Visual Thinking Team progress!

Over 6 weeks this summer, 9 children from all over Ireland participated in a special online project – our Visual Thinking Team initiative.

Kids’ Own Library of Ideas!

Look through reinventions that other children have made from recycled old materials. Get inspiration to make your own!

First art session with Foróige Sligo

We were delighted to have our first practical session with Foróige Sligo delivered by artist Andy Parsons

Can’t lose Cant reprint

We are delighted to announce that we will be reprinting an old favourite of ours: ‘Can’t lose Cant!’, a beautifully illustrated dictionary of Cant words from the Traveller language.

Extract in Folens Explorer Series

We are delighted to have an extract from ‘I hope you grow‘ in one of Folens Explorer books. The book is for 6th class students learning about geography and science. ‘I hope you grow‘ is created by children about their lives and their experiences of homelessness in greater Dublin. This book contains a blend of poetry, stories, artwork and photography generated during a series of workshops in 2018, delivered by Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership in partnership with Focus Ireland.

 

News from the Schools Exhibition Project with Mayo Arts Service!

This week 4th class from St Angela’s will be getting some important post! Our artist Kiera has put together a guide for our young artists in 4th class that we hope will inspire them to create more of their own artwork. The guide focuses on testing all kinds of materials as an artist and discovering how they work, making our own natural art materials and inks, and drawing ON the landscape! Kiera’s guide gives insight into how she works as an artist, and invites the children to create their own work with her.

Reinventions: Making standing figures

Guide to to make self-standing cardboard cut-out figures and a range of tailor made paper outfits with artist Anna Spearman.

Reinventions: Building, binding and weaving an arch

Guide to building, binding and weaving an arch with artist Martha van der Muelen.

Reinventions: Making cardboard things move

Guide to making cardboard move with artist Vanya Lambrecht-Ward.

New health and wellbeing project with Foróige

Kids’ Own is delighted to be starting a new project with Foróige, Sligo, exploring youth wellbeing and mental health. Two members of the Kids’ Own team, Jo Holmwood and Ciara Gallagher, connected with members of Sligo’s Comhairle na nÓg group for an initial consultation around this theme and to explore how they would like to address it through a community-focused artistic process.

The young people articulated some of the societal pressures and mental strains that young people face, as well as exploring positive messages to counter these, which could support other young people to achieve ‘self-acceptance’ and a greater sense of wellbeing. In the next phase of the project, a Kids’ Own associate artist will work with the group to develop artwork that shares these positive messages and can reach audiences within the wider local and regional community.

This project is funded by Sligo Leitrim Children & Young People’s Services Committee (CYPSC) with special help from Elaine Granaghan from Foróige. Watch this space for more information as the project evolves!

Reinventors: Busy in the lab!

Our Reinventors have been busy experimenting over the last fortnight: making things move and creating new toys from old things. We meet on Wednesdays online and participants work on their inventions over the week. So far, we have completed 2 sessions: the first was led by artist Vanya Lambrecht Ward and focused on ‘Making Cardboard Things Move’. It was a fascinating session where we made hinges from cardboard bits creating movable sculptures!

Kids Own Reinventors working at home

The second session was led by artist Martha van der Meulen who suggested methods of how to make some interesting things from old stuff. The participants created lots of interesting sculptures!

‘Reinventions’ is a new Kids’ Own project supported by the Community Foundation of Ireland, which seeks to cultivate an ethos of sustainability and creative reuse. Soon we will be asking children all over Ireland to make their own new things out of old stuff and to send on their photos for the Library of Ideas.

(Image credit: Cardboard scissor hands by Vanya Lambrecht Ward)

Kids Own Reinventors sculptures

Young Writers busy at work!

Though we haven’t been able to meet any of the writers in our Young Writers groups in Letterkenny and Derry/Londonderry since March, we are happy to say that the writing continues to flow! 

When the public health restrictions came in in mid-March, our two Young Writers groups had just come together for their first joint meeting. Writer Mary Branley and project manager Ciara Gallagher brought the writers from Derry/Londonderry to meet their peers in Letterkenny Library for the first time. The groups had been exchanging recorded messages via their writing mentor Mary, and so already knew a bit about each other. When the groups first met in person, it was as if they’d known each other for a long time. Everyone in the group spoke about their writing practice, the influences on their writing, their preferred genres for reading and in terms of their own writing. It was clear it was a meeting of minds! The group also worked on their writing individually during the meeting. After this, everyone read some of their work for the group or spoke a bit about something they were working on at the momentIt was a great way to end what was a fantastic meeting. A big thanks to the Letterkenny group, who were such wonderful hosts to the writers from Derry/Londonderry, and to everyone at Letterkenny Library.  

Young Writers Group - Kids Own Publishing

Since our joint meeting at the end of February, both groups have been connecting in our Young Writers online forum. It definitely does not feel like both groups of writers have only met each other once in personEveryone has continued writing and sharing their work with the group. Our writer Mary continues to work with the writers as a group and on an individual basis. She is delighted to be one of the first to read their work.  

The Kids’ Own team continues to work with the writers virtually for the moment, and we hope to be able to meet again when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, our writers are working toward their publication. We can’t wait to see how it progresses!   

 

Kids’ Own Visual Thinking Team: Call for Participants!

Kids’ Own has a special opportunity for young people, aged 10–13, to participate in an online visual thinking initiative.

Working alongside artist/curator Vanya Lambrecht Ward, young participants will have a special role in supporting and shaping the development of a new exhibition featuring artwork and writing from Kids’ Own’s extensive 23-year archive. Over a series of 6 online sessions, the team will explore aspects of the Kids’ Own archive – our books, our way of working, and visual art processes before selecting artwork and writing for the exhibition, as well as thinking about physical spaces of the exhibition and ways of presenting work for young audiences.

The work of the Visual Thinking Team will be instrumental in developing the exhibition, which will premiere at The Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon in late 2020, before moving to other venues in 2021/22. It is also important to Kids’ Own that the young participants have a physical presence in the exhibition, be that through inclusion of their voices and artwork in the exhibition brochure, or video presence in the exhibition itself.

The project will take place over six weeks in June and early July 2020.

As places are very limited, children are asked to fill in the application form attached and return to Kids’ Own at [email protected] by: Friday 22nd May 2020. Due to popular demand, the deadline has been extended from the 14th May until the 22nd.

We welcome applications from children of all backgrounds and abilities and from anywhere in Ireland. Click here for the application form!

Some essential requirements:

There is a participation fee of €35 As part of this, participants will receive a pack, including Kids’ Own books to keep. Kids’ Own has a strong ethos of equal access and inclusion. Please contact us if the participation fee is prohibitive for you.

Kids' Own Visual Thinking Team Call Out for Participants!

A beak like a banana – free book to celebrate Earth Day

To celebrate Earth Day, we are sharing this a beautiful, simple-to-follow guide on how to explore your neighbourhood environment. With Covid-19, we are all getting to know our immediate environments more intimately. This child-centred book will guide you through imaginatively inspecting your environment using sight, sound, smell and touch to help us appreciate the world around us – whilst having lots of fun!

At the back of the book there is a handy field trip planner to help you plan your outdoor adventure. This book was made by children in St Patrick’s National School, Maugherow, Co Sligo with the help of teacher Laura McNulty and Seonag Macpherson in 2016. The project was facilitated by artist Orla Kenny, environmental scientist Declan Feeney and writer Jo Holmwood.

Happy Earth Day!

Read new Kids’ Own publication Open Space online!

We are delighted to announce that Open Space, the action research report on the Virtually There project by Dr Bryonie Reid, is now available to read online!

Open Space was launched last month by Dr Ali FitzGibbon, Lecturer in Creative and Cultural Industries Management, Queen’s University Belfast, at the opening of our Virtually There exhibition at Ulster University, Belfast.

This publication is the result of two years of independent action research conducted by Dr Bryonie Reid, commissioned by Kids’ Own, and made possible by funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The aim of the research was to explore the impact of the Virtually There on all its participants: artists, teachers, and children. One of the wonderful things about this research is that it tells the story of the project, of those involved in the project, and in the relationships and collaborations that were so central to the project’s success. As Bryonie notes in her introduction: “These stories give a much fuller, more comprehensive picture of how the project worked and what the project has meant than could statistics”. Jo Holmwood, Creative Director of Kids’ Own, commended Bryonie’s approach to the project, saying “Kids’ Own’s work is about recognising all children as individuals with their own uniqueness of experience, and as such, a homogenised statistical analysis of the project would make no sense. This offered space for real richness of detail and allows the reader to come — in my view — to a closer understanding of how the project was experienced by those involved.”

We think this a really important document for the arts in education sector, as it is rare to have such an in-depth study from a longitudinal project. The publication of this study speaks to the value and potential of meaningful and long-term arts in education projects.

You can read the full publication below!

 

 

Here in Ourselves project in partnership with Mid-West School for the Deaf continues with a new publication coming later this year! Announcing Éilís Murphy as Kids’ Own Administrator and Publishing Assistant!

Kids’ Own is delighted to welcome Éilís Murphy as the newest member of the team! We are looking forward to our first team meeting in person at the Kids’ Own office, whenever that might be.

Éilís is a bookbinder, visual artist and educator who graduated from NCAD in 2004 with a BA in Fine Art Print. Éilís is passionate about books and loves creating and helping others to create books as an accessible art form. In 2012, she studied Arts Development and Participation with Cork Institute of Technology and Mayfield Art Centre which opened up new ways of using participatory art to explore social issues. Since then she has designed and facilitated art projects with children and adults, both independently and with institutions such as the Design & Crafts Council Ireland, Helium Arts, National Print Museum and the National Museums of Ireland. Her work in the arts administration sector includes Graphic Studio Dublin (2015/16), Berlin Biennale (2010) and Breaking Ground Per Cent For Art Scheme, Ballymun (2007/08). As a bookbinder she has collaborated with other visual artists and writers to create artist’s books.

 

Kids’ Own teams up with Down Syndrome Sligo!

Last month, Kids’ Own teamed up with Down Syndrome Sligo for the first time! As part of their preparations for celebrating World Down Syndrome Day on the 21st March, Down Syndrome Sligo invited Kids’ Own to work with them on a special creative session.

Kids’ Own Associate Artist Naomi Draper worked with the group of children and young people and together they explored a range of different natural and traditional materials used in craft-making. Naomi arranged the creative space into different stations, such as rushwork, clay, textile, woodwork, glasswork, and of course bookmaking and binding!

Naomi talks and plays with some of the children at the start of our creative session.
Naomi talks and plays with some of the children at the start of our creative session.

All of these stations were little circles connected to the main circle where everyone gathered at the beginning. Each station or circle allowed the children and young people to try something new, to work with a new material or a material that might be familiar to them from everyday life but used in a different way. As each circle was linked to a particular craft, we all had a chance to imagine taking on different roles, from working with wood or clay to making our own mini books.

A parent works with two children in the main circle at Kids' Own workshop

There was great excitement and energy as everyone immediately started to play and get stuck into the materials!

There were so many different materials to explore!

There was also a lot of focus as everyone tried out working with different materials.

Photographer Anna Leask was there to document the workshop and captured these lovely moments from the creative session. Anna also had some new apprentice photographers, as some of the young people took some beautiful photos with Anna’s guidance.

Parents of the children and young people also joined the workshop and we all worked and played together. There was a really lovely group spirit between all the different families at the session and it was great getting to know everyone in the group a little more.

Down Syndrome Sligo’s World Down Syndrome Day celebrations on the 21st of March have been postponed, but we hope everyone can support them at a celebration in the near future. Please click here for more information on Down Syndrome Sligo or find them on Facebook by clicking here.

Virtually There Exhibition opens at Ulster University, Belfast!

It’s hard to believe our Virtually There exhibition opened one week ago at Ulster University, Belfast! Now that we’ve had time to reflect on a wonderful weekend, we bring you a little rundown of the opening days of the exhibition. 

The exhibition showcases work developed by children, artists, and teachers in eight schools in Northern Ireland over the last three years who participated in Virtually There, a collaborative, virtual arts-in-education project. Though the exhibition focuses on the last three years, the project has been running for thirteen years. 

The exhibition gives real sense of the depth and richness of the project, along with an insight into the meaningful creative processes that children, teachers, and artists underwent together. The exhibition pieces from the eight collaborative partnerships present moments from creative journeys, from experimentation, questioning, looking closely and with new perspective, slowing down, from conversations and communication. The result is a really beautiful, immersive, and thought-provoking exhibition. 

On Saturday 7th of March, we held a special opening event to celebrate the exhibition, and to launch Open Space, the action research report on the Virtually There project by Dr Bryonie Reid. This event also featured a fascinating panel discussion between some of the project participants.

Dr Ali FitzGibbon, Lecturer in Creative and Cultural Industries Management, Queen’s University Belfast, officially launched Open Space. Commenting on the research report Open Space, Ali commented: “One of the most fascinating things raised by this project was the idea of the expert. Who was the expert in this process? Who was allowed to have an opinion that shaped this process? And it’s very clear that this was a project in which the children were guiding and intuiting an awful lot of things but in a collaborative relationship between teacher and artist.” Open Space captures so much of the complexity of the Virtually There project and the careful attentiveness of each of the collaborative partnerships. We think it is a really valuable publication and one which speaks to the potential of meaningful arts in education. 

We concluded our special opening event with a panel discussion entitled “What does collaboration really mean?” This discussion was chaired by Mark O’Brien, director of axis Ballymun, in conversation with some of the artists and teachers from the Virtually There project. The discussion amongst the panel and the wider audience brought important perspectives from those involved in these very particular forms of collaborative partnerships and in which children have a central role. 

This exhibition is a really important one for Kids’ Own, and for the children, artists, teachers, and schools involved.  Sincere thanks to all the children, artists, teachers, and schools involved, to exhibition curator Vanya Lambrecht Ward, and exhibition co-ordinator Bryonie Reid. 

The exhibition opened to coincide with the beginning of Young at Art’s Belfast Children’s Festival, and will run until the 28th of March. 

Strandtown Primary School – Virtually There exhibition
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