A celebration event was recently held at the Strule Arts Centre, marking the conclusion of the 2022 Strule Creative Initiative for Primary Schools. Bringing together students and teachers from six schools from within the catchment area of the future Strule Shared Education Campus, the event showcased the range of work and outcomes from this year’s project entitled ‘Sharing Spaces, Sharing Stories’.
Running over a series of months, this shared education project was underpinned by the Strule ethos of ‘Broadening Horizons’ and involved Primary 6 classes from each of the schools working collaboratively to support a culture of sharing, whilst maintaining and celebrating a strong sense of individuality and independence.
AmmA Creative Learning (Education Authority) has developed and evolved this successful initiative over several years based on their extensive experience of working with children and young people, enhancing the school curriculum and making creative ideas a reality. The schools participated in an exciting programme of storytelling, creative writing, outdoor learning and digital illustration and animation.
‘The Magic Harp’, a children’s book written by Northern Irish author, Declan Carville, provided the main focal point for the project, encouraging pupils to explore and share their thoughts and feelings, and understand the perspectives of others. Declan worked across all six schools and visited each of them to engage in a collaborative story writing experience, developing a new spin-off story to ‘The Magic Harp’ called ‘A Trip to Somewhere Exciting: Fergal’s Second Wish’.
In addition to working with Declan, the schools visited Gortin Glen Forest Park where they worked with Northern Ireland based artist, Mary Murphy and Emma McCaugherty from AmmA engaging in a series of outdoor learning activities designed to immerse the children in the natural world, bring ‘The Magic Harp’ story to life and enthuse the creative writing experience with Declan. This year’s programme was also developed with the Covid-19 pandemic in mind, and utilising outdoor spaces and virtual learning ensured that the children and teachers could work collectively and safely.
Finally, children from each class had the opportunity to work directly with artist, Mel Carroll, who illustrated ‘The Magic Harp’. Mel took the children on an interactive journey through the creative process bringing the words on a page to life through character design and illustration. Each child then invented their own character illustration, which they then made real by using animation techniques.
The showcase event was a unique opportunity for the children and teachers to come together in one space to share their stories and see their work on the big screen. They viewed a professionally produced video that followed the entire process and heard Declan read their new story for the first time. To top it all off, they watched a surprise animation, produced specially by Mel Carroll and Jamie Baird.
Speaking at the event, AmmA Project Lead, Daniel O’Reilly said: ‘AmmA Creative Learning would like to thank all the principals, teachers, students and practitioners who engaged with us on this ‘magical’ project and we look forward to facilitating it again in the future, on behalf of and in conjunction with the Strule Shared Education Campus’.
The schools involved were Omagh County P.S., Holy Family P.S., Arvalee School, Gibson P.S., Omagh Integrated P.S. and Christ the King P.S.