NUI Galway Launch new Intergenerational Community Learning Model

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

NUI Galway, in collaboration with St Vincent de Paul, Croí na Gaillimhe Resource Centre and Galway Community College, yesterday (Tuesday, 22 June) launched a new community model of Intergenerational Learning, adapting the University's current Living Scenes Intergenerational Programme, which has been operating in Irish Secondary Schools for the last ten years. The current school-based model of Living Scenes is a groundbreaking educational programme, the first of its kind in Ireland and Europe, possibly even worldwide. The innovative programme was first piloted in Galway City's Presentation Secondary School in 1999, and quickly became established as part of its Transition Year. Living Scenes has since developed and expanded through partnerships between NUI Galway and five further secondary schools: Calasanctius College, Oranmore, Co. Galway; Millstreet Community School, Millstreet, Co. Cork; St Flannan's College, Ennis, Co. Clare; St Joseph's Secondary School, Charlestown, Co. Mayo; and St Joseph's Secondary School, Tulla, Co. Clare. NUI Galway's Director of the Living Scenes Programme, Dr Mary Surlis, contends that: "At a time when there is a serious erosion of social fabric evident in Irish Society, Living Scenes aims to respond to the growing need for communication and trust in local communities, regenerating relationships between the older and younger generations is crucial in responding to the challenge currently facing our society. Working with Croí na Gaillimhe Resource Centre and the Galway Community College provides an ideal opportunity to extend the current remit of the programme to a wider target group and the University is delighted to be involved in this collaboration". The Living Scenes Community Programme is a collaborative education initiative which will target teenagers and retired older adults. This model will be based in Croí na Gaillimhe Resource Centre (St. Vincent's de Paul), participants will take part in a weekly structured curriculum over a 30 week period. The programme will focus on positively impacting on the lives of both groups through empowering, enabling and relationship building in a specifically designed learning environment which allows both groups to develop, bond and form new relationships and friendships. Commenting on the potential for the programme Loretta Needham, Centre Manager, Croí na Gaillimhe Resource Centre, said: "This new programme, assisted by the Maureen O'Connell Fund of the Society of St Vincent de Paul, offers an exciting opportunity for us to link with NUI Galway and to be involved in piloting a community model of Intergenerational Learning which will benefit a wide spectrum of our participants throughout Galway City and County and further afield". Rita Duffy, Principal Galway Community College, comments: "It is heartening for us to see NUI Galway reach out to young people who have no tradition of third-level education in their families or communities. Society is losing a wealth of talent and creativity because the gifts of these young people remain under-developed. Our students, like all teenagers, invest heavily in relationships. We are delighted that they will have an opportunity to work with and benefit from the wisdom of people who have faced and overcome many of life s challenges. We welcome the opportunity for our students to engage in learning that is meaningful, relevant and attainable. Galway Community College is particularly grateful to Dr Mary Surlis for this exciting new initiative and to Loretta Needham for investing in the education and welfare of our students". President of NUI Galway, Dr James J. Browne: "NUI Galway is committed to a strong ethos of civic engagement. We develop this by fostering a sense of social responsibility and citizenship amongst students and by working to share the knowledge resources of the University with the wider community. The Living Scenes programme of intergenerational learning is the embodiment of that ethos - reaching from the University into the heart of the community to work in an intergenerational capacity with younger and older people. As President, I am proud of the unique and pioneering work which NUI Galway has led, through Living Scenes, in building social cohesion in Ireland".
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