The Speedwell Trust brings children from different backgrounds together through activity projects in order to promote sustainable communication. The projects enable children to explore and develop an understanding of the value of diversity, and consider issues such as conflict, competition and co-operation, and their relation to both the natural and the social world. They are unique in their cross-community reach, to pre, primary and special needs schools, and also work with parents and teachers to facilitate integration and a respect for difference.
At Speedwell children work in mixed groups, participating in both environmental and community relations programmes. The trust also offers teachers and parents from both communities the opportunity to meet, exchange ideas and extend their knowledge. Speedwell encourages children and adults to value and respect each other and the world we share.
They aim to bring children from both communities together. Many children live in segregated housing and go to segregated schools. Speedwell brings thousands of children together who would otherwise never have the opportunity to cross the sectarian divide.
'Nursery Minibeasts' is a nursery programme that takes children aged three to four years old, and from different community backgrounds, nationalities and ethnic backgrounds, and introduces the concept of diversity through play and interaction, using the 'Minibeast' idea.
Through prose and visual stimuli the programme illustrates a variety of 'Minibeasts' to the whole group. Emphasis is put on the fact that all the animals are different but necessary in the world we share, just as people are. Children experiment with the concept of difference through elements of free child-centred play and outdoor structured activities. They make a 'Minibeast' with modelling dough and investigate real life 'minibeasts'. They share equipment and explore the close proximity of the 'Minibeasts’' habitats outdoors. Children eat lunch together so as to find out about their own similarities and differences, including food preferences, uniforms, and where they live.
Ourselves and Our Community (Speedwell community relations programme KS1)
“Ourselves and Our Community” is aimed at children aged four to seven years old and promotes communication between children from Protestant and Catholic backgrounds in Northern Ireland. This initiative allows children to explore and develop their understanding of diversity and to be accepting of difference in their friendships.
Diversity in Our Community (Speedwell community relations programme, KS2)
This initiative promotes communication between children aged 8-11 from Protestant and Catholic communities. It aims to develop concepts of identity and difference as well as enabling lasting friendships between children of different backgrounds.
This programme aims to tackle concepts of identity and difference between the two main traditions and other significant cultures in Northern Ireland. Children are taken to visit a church of the Church of Ireland, a Presbyterian church, a Methodist church and a Catholic church. They explore their local communities and the symbols and traditions of different cultures. They then discuss and play around the themes of identity and difference, attempting to re-construct what they have understood.