‘Moving to the Countryside’ media initiative launched

MIFC Characters

The Rural Respecting Difference Programme has exclusively revealed an exciting new cartoon as part of the ‘Media Initiative Respecting Difference Programme’.

The latest message features a new character, Lucy, who welcomes existing character Bukola as he begins a new life in the countryside. The cartoon was premiered on St Patrick’s Day at a number of high profile events, including the final of the Ulster Schools Rugby Cup at Ravenhill and the MacRory Cup Final in Armagh Athletic Gaelic Grounds.

This latest episode follows the same format as the previous messages and themes of the programme, but this message introduces a brand new setting from a rural perspective. The new message features many aspects of rural living while highlighting the importance of farming life, shared education, sporting and community activities.

The new feature has been developed as part of the Rural Respecting Difference Programme, which involves the unique partnership of the Rural Development Council (RDC), Early Years – the organisation for young children, and the Border Counties Childhood Network (BCCN). The Programme is based on the Media Initiative for Children (MIFC) Respecting Difference Programme and is aimed at rural based primary schools and afterschool clubs along the Border in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

The content of the cartoon was developed by a steering group consisting of representatives from the three partners, who alongside the GAA, Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Southern Education & Library Board, South Tyrone Empowerment Programme and South Armagh SureStart, helped develop the new character.

MIFC Characters

Teachers, after school leaders and parents participating in the programme will be introduced to Lucy and a range of new resources over the next few months. These include the new Lucy puppet, jigsaws, story book, stickers, posters and many resources for parents to use at home.

Teresa Canavan, Chief Executive Officer of RDC stated ‘While the new cartoon focuses on rural life, its overall aim is to foster inclusion and respect for people from rural and urban areas and from different cultural traditions. The new message provides excellent opportunities for schools and after schools across Ireland to engage children in discussions about respecting difference. Rural areas are changing and it was important for us that the cartoon and characters reflected the diversity and vibrancy of rural living and we are absolutely delighted with the outcome. We thank the steering group for their invaluable contributions in helping to bring Lucy to reality and look forward to developing her character and importantly introducing her to the children’.

Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Chief Executive Officer, ‘Early Years is delighted with this new rural message and rural focus which provides an important development to the Media Initiative Respecting Difference Programme. The evidence based Media Initiative Respecting Difference Programme was developed in Northern Ireland as a result of a partnership with Pii the Peace Initiative in the USA and Early Years in 2003 and since then has been rolled out across Northern Ireland and the southern Border counties in the Republic of Ireland. The programme is targeted at children aged 2-8, their parents and teachers and is aimed at creating a culture of respect for all forms of difference.’

Denise McCormilla, Chief Executive Officer, BCCN commented ‘ Working with the Rural Development Council and Early Years to extend the Respecting Difference Programme into Primary schools and after school services in the southern border counties has been a very worthwhile experience for all involved. BCCN is delighted with the addition of this new rural element to the programme and look forward to further engagement in promoting rural development and respecting difference’.

The new cartoon ‘Moving to the Countryside’ will be shown on national television in the near future.

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