Kids’ Own and Irish Penal Reform Trust’s (IPRT) new Children and Families Initiative are working in partnership on a new creative project for children and young people who have experience of having a family member in prison. On 14 June 2023, we were delighted to hear the announcement that the project was chosen as one of the lucky recipients of the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal and Community Foundation Ireland funding and would be receiving €18,000 towards this project.
IPRT is looking forward to developing this new creative project as partner with Kids’ Own. This book project for children and young people who have experience of having a family member in prison will be the first of it’s kind in Ireland.
This project builds on the initial idea articulated by Dr Bernadette Ní Áingléis to create a teaching/learning resource for schools to support teachers and young learners. The specific teaching/learning context is children who have a family member (parent, sibling) in prison.
The purpose of the children’s book project would be to:
- Provide an opportunity for children with a family member in prison to have a creative voice and a platform for self-expression through a professional arts process (within a safe, rights-focused environment).
- Produce a book (the first in Ireland) to offer an understanding of this unique experience and context through the child’s own voice and artwork.
- Advocate for the families of prisoners by developing a unique and beautiful resource in which they hear the voice of their children.
- It is envisaged that the resulting book publication would also support professionals working in the area.
The collaborative book project will involve 3 key stages:
- Stage 1: The Creative Process: An 8-week period of weekly workshops in-person between a single group of children (recruited or identified in collaboration with our partners) and an artist and writer. Through this process, a body of writing and artwork is developed. If an accompanying learning resource is being developed, this would be developed after the book by children has been created, with members of a steering committee, and a similar creative process would be central in the development of this resource.
- Stage 2: The Publication Process: Over a 2–3-month period, Kids’ Own collates, processes and edits the artwork and writing, and then designs and publishes the resulting book publication.
- Stage 3: The Launch Process: The book is launched at a special IPRT event, attended by the participating children, teachers, partners, funders, family members and members of the wider community.
- Additional strands of the project may be designed to support the dissemination of the book, or educational supports and professional development for teachers.
A steering committee has been developed to support and direct this project. This project has attracted a vast amount of interest and the steering committee includes representatives from various organisations including Barnardos, Bedford Row, Traveller Justice Initiative, people with lived experience and researchers from UL and UCC.
The first meeting is expected to take place in late July 2023.