The project was initiated by the Trustees of the Churches Trust, who are the leaders in the North West area of the Catholic Church, Church of Ireland, Methodist Church, and Presbyterian Church. The aim was to bring young people and schools together for a positive learning and commemoration experience. The project involved 12 schools (four from Donegal and eight from Derry /Londonderry), involving 70 pupils, and 18 teaching staff.
The project was driven and developed by a steering group of 30 people representative of church leaders, school principals and teachers, Derry and Strabane City Council, The Nerve Centre, Museum services, and other community & voluntary sector organisations.
The programme included:
• January - March 2016: two creative workshop days, facilitated by The Nerve Centre, where pupils and teachers explored the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme using creative media.
• February 2016: an educational study trip to the Somme Museum (Newtownards) to examine Ireland's role in the 1st World War with specific reference to the cross-community involvement in the 3 local volunteer divisions: the 10th and 16th (Irish) Divisions and the 36th (Ulster) Division.
• March 2016: a study visit to Dublin exploring sites such as World War I Memorial Gardens, a guided walking tour focusing on the Easter Rising, and a visit to Collins Barracks
• April 2016: a day of reflection, facilitated by Maureen Hetherington and Johnston McMaster (The Junction), examining the concepts of Shared and Ethical Remembering.
• May 2016: a visit to the Tower Museum’s Exhibition examining reflections from 1916-2016 and a commemoration event, in the Guildhall, where the outcomes of the project were showcased and students gave personal reflections about their experience on the Journey Together project. The event as attended by over 150 people.
What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?
• The steering group was representative cross community and cross border churches, schools and other organisations. Of the 12 schools that participated, three schools would be traditionally associated with Protestant faith traditions, two schools would be mixed faiths, and seven would be associated with the Catholic faith traditions.
• The project was delivered within the framework of Shared and Ethical Remembering, ensuring lots of dialogue and opportunities for a fruitful shared learning experience.
• A range of participative methodologies were used to ensure varied learning opportunities and sustained engagement.
• The project steering group monitored the development and implementation of the project. The Churches Trust board received project progress reports at board meetings. All funders received a funding report.
• Evaluations were carried out at the end of each activity followed by an overall project evaluation after the commemoration event. Evaluation was varied: some verbal feedback (individual and group) and some written questionnaires.
• Some of the schools brought the learning experience back to school assembly where other students could learn form the project. One school used the materials developed for another project and won a substantial award for learning materials and equipment for their school.
• Young people participating said that they found that this way of remembering was very powerful. We encouraged them to take the learning experience back to their schools and to act as ambassadors for change in their communities.
Fiona Fagan, email@example.com