Child Participation Case Study

Tipperary Rural Traveller Project (TRTP) involves Traveller children in decision-making

How Tipperary Rural Traveller Project (TRTP) involves Traveller children in decision-making as part of their family learning programme.

Background Information

Tipperary Rural Traveller Project (TRTP) works with the Traveller community to address such key issues as health and accommodation and to promote and protect Traveller culture. Irish Travellers are a formally recognised ethnic minority group with their own language and culture. TRTP was set up to:


In recent years, TRTP has undertaken actions to address the issue of Mental Health in the Traveller community, to promote Traveller culture and to challenge prejudice, and to counter the barriers and challenges faced by Traveller children in the mainstream school system.

TRTP engages with children through Outreach visits, Family resource settings, Youthwork settings, Library settings, and Outdoor events organised by us in children’s Halting sites, such as Santa Visits, The Wish Tree, Outdoor Summer Camps and Picnic trips to local Historical sites.

This case study tells the story of how our Traveller Family Learning Programme gives children and young people a voice in decision-making in the programme. The Traveller Family Learning Programme is delivered by Education Peer Support Workers and aims to support children and their families so that children can reach their potential in the education system. In the Programme, the Education Peer Support Workers listen to and hear children’s needs in a culturally appropriate way.

The children who take part in the Traveller Family Learning Programme are aged 4 to 14. However, we engage with Traveller children from when they are infants to adulthood in the broad range of our work within our organisation. All the children in our programme are from a Traveller background.

How we gave space, voice, audience and influence to young people’s views



Things we considered What we did
How we make sure that children and young people feel safe to express their views
  • The children are surrounded by people from their own community and other non-Traveller TRTP staff that have earned the trust of the Traveller community they work with and for.
  • Our organisation is a Traveller led project with a mostly Traveller staff so that those non-Travellers that work in TRTP come to a deep and nuanced understanding of Traveller people.
  • The children can see clearly that the adults working with them in our programme have a cultural sensitivity and a strong sense of listening to hear the Traveller child that so often is silenced.
  • Evidence of stories children have shared with us gives us a clear indication of how safe they feel with us.
How we allow enough time to listen to and hear their views
  • We have a three-fold approach to our programme – Literacy, Culture and Wellbeing; this structure ensures that we plan our sessions so that there is time for children to tell their story of their day at school and we actively encourage them to share their thoughts on how they feel.
  • We have Mindfulness and Wellbeing exercises for children from junior infants so that they grow up with a developed Emotional Literacy through our programme.
How we make sure that all children or young people are heard
  • We always ensure a good adult to child ratio in our programme to allow for those rich and relaxed one to one time with each child.
  • Our staff value the importance of encouraging children to speak out.
  • We have Circle time where children take turns to speak out also and we tailor this so that it is not overwhelming, and it is adapted to the age and the comfort level of each individual child.



Things we considered What we did
How we support children and young people to give their views and be heard
  • We encourage the unique and authentic voice of the Traveller child’s voice at every session through a variety of methods within a programme that is led out by Traveller Education Peer Support Workers; these methods include drama games, storytelling, circle and group games, asking children for their views.
  • Sometimes we start sessions with a question mark on the white board and we explore different topics e.g., Food choices, Trips out, new resources they would like included.
How they can raise things that matter to them
  • Sometimes children raise issues in a one-to-one discussion, and we can explore how we can support really listening to that child.
  • On other occasions we prompt discussions on issues that matter to the children for example how the school yard feels for them.
  • Artwork often brings up concerns the children have we find, for example accommodation pressures.
How we offer them different ways of giving their views
  • We use a technique of two groups participating in different activities and one member from each group reporting back on what the group did; we find this builds confidence in speaking and sharing views with group interaction.
  • We have a large variety of group games that encourage smaller group discussions that then feed into the larger group.
  • A show of hands is a simple tool we use often to show views in a non-confrontational way. Sometimes we use different spaces in the room to show preference.



Things we considered What we did
How we show children and young people that we are ready and willing to listen to views
  • We take note of the views they share in written form very often. We always acknowledge views shared. We encourage the children to always share their views.
  • We constantly let the children know that we hold high hopes for them in a broad sense, we encourage them to dream big and not to be held back by other people’s views. We tell the children we believe in them and that each one of them is precious.
  • We have designed a programme that is flexible enough to allow the children to be heard in a way that allows for whatever story or stories emerge. We find the children in our groups are fantastic orators and have strong will with clear views of their own but sadly often keep these views to themselves in the school environment where they are from a minority group.
  • In our sessions children open up and tell us so much of their thoughts and ideas – this is something we treat with the greatest respect and confidence.
  • Irish Society in general does not hold high expectations of Traveller children, our programme strives to switch that narrative around. We teach the children to celebrate their identity and be proud every day of being an Irish Traveller child with a fascinating and rich culture and identity.
How we make sure that they understand what we can do with their views
  • We feedback to the children what we are going to do to support their views in a real open and transparent way.



Things we considered What we did
How they know the level of influence they can have
  • We tell them openly and honestly what we can do, letting them know that certain things take some time to plan and some budgeting to cover the cost such as our planned trip to Fota Island Wildlife Park which came from a child not knowing what colour a flamingo was and asking to go to see one.
  • Other things such as a preference for green rather than red grapes we can do quickly and easily, and they see how we consider their wishes when we alter our lunch shopping.
How we give them feedback
  • We usually give them feedback through two-way discussion.
How we share with them the impact of their views on decisions
  • We are very open about how we address their views in our planning and operations explaining to them about safety and our duty of care in a way that is respectful.
  • We let the children know how much we value their opinions and how much we enjoy learning from them.
  • We encourage the children to problem solve and think creatively.
How we explain the reasons for decisions taken
  • We explain our decisions and the reasons for them in a thorough and respectful way while encouraging the children to question us further.
  • We tease out the process we went through to arrive at decisions and in this way the children really hear how central to the process they were.


The views of children and young people have resulted in them having a say in choosing the food we provide, the resources we purchase, and where we plan to go on outings. We rent the space we use so we are not currently in a position to explore physical changes to the settings we work in.

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