Saphara Be the Change 2022

This year’s Saphara Be the Change programme has been off to an exciting and vibrant start as we celebrate being able to meet and learn together in person once again.

From 4th- 8th April our team of brilliant students from Stranmillis and St Mary’s University Colleges joined together for a week of planning, reflecting and delivering a programme of inclusive learning to 50 Primary 7 children from Fane Street Primary School and St Paul’s Primary School. The theme of “My Story, Our Town” helped the children, many of whom were newcomer children, to reflect upon identity and belonging; and how our individual stories and cultures work together to make Belfast a wonderful and welcoming city for everyone.

From games and dancing to crafts and sharing stories, the children learned many valuable lessons as they were enthusiastically guided by our hardworking team of Saphara college students. One teacher said:

“My children are loving making friends with the children from St Paul's. We are so pleased that Saphara is providing this Shared Education experience, we haven't had any opportunity over the past 2 years."- Mrs Brown, Fane Street PS

Of course, it wasn’t just the children who were learning valuable lessons as our Stranmills and St Mary’s students reported:

“To say [Be the Change week] was an eyeopener would be an understatement. The children that you work with are among the most caring, funny and gracious children that I’ve ever come across… the week of planning, delivering and reflection that we took part in was an opportunity to gain invaluable experiences and develop transferrable skills that will be … useful in many situations”- Clodagh, St Mary’s College

“The planning was so much fun, working with St Mary’s and Stranmillis together…. When I look back on Be the Change Week I take away many things, but through my personal reflection I realised one thing. The ability and willingness to hand control over to the children … is most successful in delivering a programme like this.”- Jordan, Stranmillis College

Out of the 50 primary school pupils, a phenomenal 27 languages were represented. This highlights the importance of the Saphara Be the Change programme as we work to support newcomer children in Northern Ireland, not only supporting their English language skills, but celebrating the diversity and richness they are bringing to Northern Ireland! Many of our college students were delighted to learn new phrases and facts about other languages and cultures; all of which add to the vibrant tapestry of “Our City”.

The fun didn’t stop with the college students! On 11th April we were delighted to celebrate the work so far of our 140 Be the Change Award sixth-formers.

30 pupils from 12 schools attended the reception in Belfast City Hall alongside their teachers and shared some of the highlights of their Be the Change journey so far.

Clodagh and Jordan from the Colleges’ Be the Change Week were also there to share some words of wisdom with the Year 13s who, following their AS exams, will have their own opportunity to engage with newcomer children and their peers.

We were honoured to welcome the Deputy Lord Mayor, councillor Tom Haire. Although the Lord Mayor, Kate Nicoll (then councillor, currently MLA), could not be there is person, she joined us virtually with a message of encouragement to the Saphara teams:

“I just want to thank all of the Saphara volunteers for your incredible contribution. It’s so important now more than ever that we have a global outlook, that we spread kindness, and empathy, and awareness, and that’s something that you all have in endless amounts! So, thank you for your amazing contribution!”

As we look forward with anticipation to June’s Be the Change Award events, we want to say a huge well done to our brilliant school teams and, of course, a special thank you to the teachers who make it all possible.

Keep an eye on this blog and on our social media for updates on more of the wonderful work of the Be the Change Programme 2022


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