UNICEF Ireland awards first Child Rights Schools in Ireland
UNICEF Ireland Ambassador Donncha O’Callaghan, Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork Tony Fitzgerald, and children and teachers from two Cork schools celebrate achievement
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DUBLIN/CORK, 03 OCTOBER 2022 – Two Cork schools were named as the first UNICEF Child Rights Schools in Ireland on Friday, September 30. UNICEF Ireland Ambassador Donncha O’Callaghan and Deputy Lord Mayor of Cork Tony Fitzgerald joined students and teachers from St Vincent’s Secondary School and Our Lady of Lourdes National School at an award ceremony at the Lord Mayor’s Office in Cork City.
The UNICEF Child Rights Schools programme sees schools work to embed children’s rights throughout their day to day activities. According to UNICEF, this ‘whole school approach’ helps ensure schools are safer and more inspiring places to learn, where children are respected, their talents are nurtured, and they are able to thrive.
UNICEF Ireland Ambassador Donncha O’Callaghan, whose three daughters attend Our Lady of Lourdes National School, said he has been inspired by the impact the programme has made within the school. “You can see it in the kids. They have been empowered to have a voice and to express what matters to them. The teachers have been wonderful. They have worked with the UNICEF Ireland team to make sure the children, no matter their age, are encouraged to speak up and contribute in the daily life of the school. As both a parent of children involved in the programme, and a UNICEF Ireland Ambassador, I’m so proud of what the programme means for children and teachers within the school.”
The two Cork schools are the first in Ireland to reach the final ‘Gold’ stage of the programme and UNICEF Ireland Child Rights Schools Coordinator Lydia McCarthy said she was delighted to see them reach such an important milestone, “This award is for every child and teacher in the schools who have worked tirelessly over the last couple of years to ensure that children’s rights are celebrated and realised in all aspects of a school’s operations. The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) sets out the rights that all children are entitled to and schools have a special role to play in fulfilling this promise. We know that delivering on the programme is not easy and it takes commitment from the whole school community, but when you see its impact on everyone involved, you can’t help but be inspired.”
The UNICEF Child Rights School programme began in Ireland in 2019 and has since benefitted thousands of children in schools nationwide. The expansion and development of the UNICEF programme has been supported by the European Union’s Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme since 2021.
Schools signed up to the full UNICEF programme take three years to become a Child Rights School. The journey involves children, teachers, non-teaching staff, and parents/carers, who work together to analyse how rights-respecting their schools currently are, and then collectively take action to improve the situation. There are no fees to participate in the programme.
More information on the Child Rights Schools programme can be found at: www.unicef.ie/crs
Notes to Editor
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