Cross-Border Scheme Launched by Children's Laureate

Siobhan Parkinson emphasises the importance of reading and writing at a young age  

Ireland's Children’s Laureate, the novelist and children's author Siobhan Parkinson, travelled to the Strule Arts Centre in Omagh this week to officially launch a cross-border programme that will give local schools the opportunity to work with some of Ireland’s best known writers and storytellers.

The Writers in Schools Programme, co-ordinated by Poetry Ireland and funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and An Chomhairle Ealaíon, is designed to improve literacy skills at primary and post-primary levels.

It is one of the longest-running arts in education programmes in the Republic of Ireland. Every year approximately 20,000 children and young people participate in the programme. This is the second time it will be open to schools in Northern Ireland.

'Writers in Schools brings children to the creative process of reading,' said Parkinson at the launch. 'Writing and gives them access to the life of the imagination right in their own classrooms, and meets them where they are in their own lives.'

After a Poetry Ireland residency one of the student's said, ‘The experience of being taught by a published author is one that will stick with me for the rest of my life. It was absolutely brilliant.’

Damian Smyth, Head of Literature at the ACNI, commented: 'There is no better way to introduce children to the arts than by offering them an opportunity to work with some of the country’s most inspirational artists.

'The Writers in School’s scheme proved a phenomenal success last year in Northern Ireland and we are delighted to be working with Poetry Ireland again on the 2011 programme.'

Applications are now open for schools wishing to participate in the 2011 Writers in Schools Programme. Through the scheme, schools can invite writers to come into classrooms to host one-off workshops or arrange for pupils to take part in longer cross-community residential workshops.

For additional information on Border Crossings Project visit the Poetry Ireland website.