The OUR Generation programme delivered by PlayBoard NI will look at, and build on, cross-community development which strives to further improve relations between communities using a play methodology.
PlayBoard’s OUR Generation: Spaces to Be programme is based on the Spaces to Be – Mapping Identity and Belonging toolkit. The toolkit was developed by PlayBoard through its Peace III Diversity in Play initiative and builds on PlayBoard’s many years of Playwork and peace building experience and practice working with children, young people and communities across Northern Ireland. Our focus is on the critical role of play as a means of supporting both the development of childhood resilience and as a mechanism for positively addressing differences at individual, familial and cross-community level. Through a range of practical and playful exercises the Spaces to Be programme will focus on breaking down barriers caused by transgenerational traumas and adverse experiences, such as, those caused by The Troubles. Using play, we will build resilience in children and young people by recognising and celebrating difference, in turn supporting their positive mental health and well-being.
In terms of resilience, research has highlighted the importance of play in offering children access to opportunities to build characteristics closely associated with high levels of resilience. These include the ability to adapt to distinct or changing circumstances or set-backs and recover from same; the ability to learn and grow from mistakes, challenges and difficult situations enhancing both mental and physical capacity to cope with stress and adversity; the capacity to develop positive self-concept and high self-esteem.
From a cross-community perspective, despite perceived differences, the one uniting factor for all children and young people throughout childhood is PLAY. Children and young people’s lives are full of play opportunities and it is through these play opportunities that children learn about others, explore difference and better understand the world around them. Through play, they are able to develop the skills required for competence in cognitive, creative and social spheres. Critically, in play all children are equal, and it is through the act of play that children and young people’s learning in cooperation and conflict resolution begins.