Crime, anti-social behaviour and community safety were under the microscope at two Cookstown schools, thanks to Housing Executive funding.
Four hundred and fifty Key Stage 3 students from Cookstown High School and Holy Trinity College got together over the last year to take part in the Respect Programme.
Developed by the Children’s Safety Education Foundation (CSEF), the Respect Programme teaches teenagers about the consequences of anti-social behaviour and crime including hate crime on communities, as well as the health, safety and the wellbeing of young people.
The Housing Executive supports the project in different areas of Northern Ireland each year. In the last five years, 12 schools and hundreds of students have taken part.
Michael Fitzgerald, from the Children’s Safety Education Foundation, who works alongside schools to roll out the programme, said: “As part of the Respect Programme, we encourage children to challenge stereotypes, think about citizenship issues and also consider opposing viewpoints. This helps them deal with problems they encounter in everyday life, such as peer pressure, bullying and personal safety - life skills that can be difficult to convey through normal teaching channels.”
A total of £2,500 was provided from the Housing Executive’s Community Safety fund for new text books, eBooks, worksheets and student surveys.
Laura McConville, the Housing Executive’s Community Safety Manager, said: “We want to empower young people to make positive choices and play an active role in their community.
“We’ve funded this community safety project for six years. It uses real life situations to demonstrate how everyone in our society deserves to be, and should be, respected.
“This year, Cookstown High School and Trinity College helped their pupils get to grips with anti-social behaviour issues in a constructive way,” she added.
Nicola Cheevers, Learning for life & work co-ordinator at Cookstown High School, said: “We have found the Respect Programme to a valuable resource in supporting our Learning for Life and Work Scheme at Key Stage 3. The topics are very relevant in today’s society and the Respect books provide a simple overview of issues that pupils may need to consider in their everyday lives.
“The worksheets are a great accompaniment to the booklets and our Year 9 pupils have enjoyed using them. The booklets themselves are well presented and have helped to engage our pupils. We look forward to using the new Moneywise booklets with our Key Stage 4 pupils in the future.”
Mary McDonald, Vice Principal at Trinity College, said: “This is an excellent project. The resources are interesting, colourful and accessible. Our students found the programme, which deals with issues real and current to them, engaging and informative and an excellent supplement to the learning for life and work programme.”