These projects are about people learning more about and getting involved in their community and democracy at getting involved at all levels.
Project’s that focus on themes of concern to the local community, where participants come together to learn, develop solutions and take collective action to address those concerns
Projects that focus on developing the individual’s awareness, confidence, skills and knowledge in a community of learners
Self and the Big Picture
This project was set up to give participants the opportunity to explore issues such as power, poverty, the media, education, health and others both from a personal and from a wider society perspective. This allowed them to see what they can influence by making personal changes and what needs wider collective action. There were ten participants on the course. The feedback was mostly positive. One downside was that as the course was on Mondays there were some breaks due to bank holidays.
Some of the feedback included
‘Enjoyed every moment of class, had a lovely tutor’
‘I enjoyed the discussions and open-mindedness’
‘Tutor was amazing, engaging and allowing of class to interact and be open’
‘Made me aware of differing opinions from people from both the same and different cultures. It made me think of things that ordinarily I wouldn’t have’
‘A comfortable, open, accepting group (including tutor) where people were their real selves and shared personal experiences. Differing opinions were accepted as that’
‘To see I’m not alone with my problems. It was great to share about experience with my own children’
‘This really helped me in getting out of bed and interacting with people’
‘Things can very much evolve from this sort of course latter on, a very good course’
‘Really nice environment and class’
‘I am really glad that I was part of this course’
QQI 5 Social Justice Principles
This course was run in Naas between Sept 17 and May 18. 9 participants completed the course and achieved their Level 5 certificate. The course covered four areas:
- Practice – Social Justice Issues and Principles
- Perspectives and Values
Each participant prepared a project which they presented to their class and kept a Learning Journal to record their experience. They enjoyed the content and interaction with each other and the tutors. A challenge faced by the group was that near the end of the course the tutor became unwell, with another tutor taking her place. This was unsettling for the group, but with support from the replacement tutor and course co-ordinator, the group successfully negotiated the transition and completed the course.
Some of the feedback included:
‘I met a completely different set of people’
‘Great discussions on very topical issues’
‘Many difficult issues debated but always in a respectful manner’
‘The whole course was amazing’
‘It made me be more open minded’
‘I doubted myself for a long time, but this course helped me find my way’
‘I feel I am more capable of listening and I am much more aware at work’
‘Broadened my horizons and makes me more tolerant’
Wicklow Town Photography Group
Wicklow Photography Club registered as a new group with Wicklow Community Education in September 2017. Initially, the group wanted to learn photo-editing skills. With tutor, Conor Wickham at the helm, this training took place in the dark winter evenings in Wicklow Further Education and Training centre.
Having acquired the photo-editing skills, the group was then ready to take on a challenging, collective project to raise their profile in the local community, gain new members and, at the same time, progress their development as a group. Conor created a programme to support this goal; it was called “Getting Exhibition Ready” and it facilitated the whole project management process of developing an idea, planning, organising and promoting the event.
“Looking to the Future While Remembering Wicklow’s Past” was the theme of the exhibition which took place in Wicklow County Council Buildings in Wicklow Town.
The exhibition was opened by Minister of state, Andrew Doyle on Monday 11 June 2018 and ran for two weeks. It attracted the interest of local media, as well as the local community.
Feedback from the group
By working on a collective project, members have developed a stronger group identity; prior to this project, they took photos and focused on their individual achievements, whereas now they have a shared vision of where they are going as a group; “the tutor facilitated greatly in this area by drawing us in and pointing issues out and helping us to focus on meeting deadlines”.
An added bonus of the project was the connections made with other local community groups, such as Wicklow Historical Society, as well as government bodies such as the Wicklow County Council. The group feel that showcasing their work will increase their membership and also be beneficial when submitting funding applications.
Dunlavin Parents’ Group
Supporting groups to continue to be effective is one of the aims of Community Education. By facilitating groups to undertake training in relevant areas and by building peoples’ confidence to assume responsibility for group tasks and leadership roles, Community Education supports groups to be stronger and more effective.
An example of this type of support took place when facilitator, Noel Fitzgerald worked with the Dunlavin Parents’ Group. The group was established recently by Tusla to create a support network for parents and families in the area. The participants gave feedback on how the training helped them as a recently-formed group.
Firstly, the fact that the course was specific to their particular community group was identified as beneficial, time was not wasted on very generic issues. Also, the training helped the group to refocus on its Mission Statement and to explore how to reach their goals. A session reviewing their work to-date was helpful in clarifying how much the group had achieved and how far it had come. The involvement of all members in the training positively encouraged team-building.
Quotes from Group Members
“I think it has given us great head space to think and explore ideas in a way that we would never have done in a traditional committee set up. The experience can only add to the success of the group”
“We jumped into spending funding before we had reflected upon fundamental things, like aims and goals. Noel made us stop and think things through and clarify our vision and aims. We are stronger as a result and we have more of a chance of avoiding burnout and being sustainable as a group.”
Suncroft Village Community Outreach Group
Suncroft Village Community Outreach Group is a voluntary group, with the aim of providing opportunities to the people of Suncroft to engage, enable and simply, get involved within our community. We promote social inclusion and active citizenship, via a range of activities including; community environmental projects in the form of planting flower beds, cleaning and enrichment of open spaces, information evenings, social activities and events.
As a rural community in a sparsely populated area, we found it difficult to reach out to as many people as we would like. We hoped that by using Social media, we would be able to reach, contact and engage with a far larger audience.
KWETB has facilitated this intention by providing our members with the opportunity to partake in a “Facebook Formalisation Course”. By completing this course our group have significantly increased our capability to reach out and engage with a far greater number of residents within our target area.
Most of our members are middle aged with minimum experience in using social media platforms. This course has increased our knowledge, skills, attitudes and abilities to use social media in a very positive manner in order to communicate with and inform as many members of our community as possible in relation to planned courses, events, and activities which are inclusive to all members of the greater Suncroft community.
On behalf of myself and members of the group, I wish to express our sincere appreciation to KWETB for facilitating and enabling us to undertake this course,
Anne Setright, Chairperson
Adult Learner Festival Mindfulness and Wellbeing Project
Newbridge women’s group were one of the five community education groups which participated in the Adult Learning Festival events in 2018. The group undertook to learn mindfulness as a way of increasing wellbeing and sharing it within the wider community.
The group trained with Tutor Dominic Cogan an experienced KWETB, Mindfulness tutor over a period of fifteen weeks. They took on the project with great enthusiasm and a little apprehension.
However, by March 6th, the beginning of the annual Adult Learning Festival, the group were ready to share their newfound skills and insights to their local community.
They offered three stand –alone Chat and Chill events designed to nourish both body and mind. The events were well attended and received with lots of discussion on the benefits of mindfulness among everyone present. The group also put together a booklet of poems selected by the group members to share with the community.
The group was established in 2008 as a locally based voluntary community education women group.
To date they have organised courses as diverse as Women’s Studies, Personal Development, Healthy Eating and Arts and Crafts and much more. They meet on Wednesday evenings 7:30 – 9:30 and new members are always welcome.
Nora O’Hanlon, Network Kildare Development Worker 045 881106
South Kildare Villages History and Heritage Group
The idea behind the course was to establish a Local History group in a large disjointed rural area stretching from Castledermot to Kilcullen and from the Moate of Ardscull to Moone and Timolin. It was important not simply to create a committee but explore how rich the history and heritage of the area was and what sources or resources were available to help inform and educate. You cannot beat local knowledge. From the outset the participants disclosed themes, events, people and locations unique to the area, looking for unique selling points that would be of interest to visitors, new residents, school children and indeed ‘locals’ alike.
They created the idea of a ‘Whistle-Stop Tour’ whereby some members form an area would bring others to locations they were familiar with and give a brief history and description. This would be reciprocated by the remainder at a later date. This format could be developed into tourism trails and so on.
The participants took control of their fledging committee, adopting roles, duties and a five-month programme of talks to put the South Kildare Villages History and Heritage Group on a sound footing. It has already allowed them to forge partnerships and links within the community in terms of a possible new parish newsletter and engagement with the new Tanyard project. It is the beginning of their own ‘Sense of Place.’
Mario Corrigan, KWETB Tutor
Newtown Men’s Shed
With practical skills, progression can be more tangible.
Initially, Newtownmountkennedy Men’s Shed learnt how to use woodwork equipment safely with tutor Joe Gore; equipment had been donated to the men’s shed but members were not confident about using it. Once the group had received this training, they could develop group projects and produce practical pieces of woodwork. The group aim to use the pieces they produce as a potential source of funding.
“I am 110% more confident using the equipment now”
Women’s Integrated Network (WIN), Athy
The Headscarf Artistry Training Project was organised by Women’s Integrated Network (WIN), Athy and funded by KWETB Community Education Service. It ran from 21st April to 16th June 2018.
This project was number one on the list from needs analysis consultations facilitated by WIN, Athy to identify existing gaps and needs, and possible solutions towards addressing them. As a result, WIN applied to KWETB for funding to cover both tutor and non-tutor costs. Thankfully, KWETB worked with WIN to ensure a successful outcome.
This training project recorded the best and highest attendance in 6 years. It was so much so that we started with 13 participants and had a waiting list of 14 more. As a result of the high demand and outstanding success, WIN sent in application for a second batch to cater for those on the waiting list.
The success and the positive impact speak for itself because three weeks after the end of the course the graduates held a meet-up to keep their learning fresh while hoping that they would get a go at the advanced stage to further develop to full-fledged economic generation project.
One of the participants said ”WIN has outdone itself in this training project as it provided opportunities to learn new lifelong skills, make new friends, become active members of the greater Athy community, de-stress and develop self-worth, thank you”.
WIN on behalf of all the participants and those on the waiting list, would like to thank the Tutor, Bukunola, Conor, Lisa, Susan and KWETB for funding the Headscarf Artistry Training Project.
Springboard Family Support Group, Arklow
For those experiencing mental health issues, or personal and family challenges, Community Education can offer an opportunity for to have “time out” to focus on well-being. Participants have reported that attending a structured class with an informal and friendly learning environment allows them the opportunity to strengthen their resilience.
Facilitator Antoinette Kavanagh recently delivered a course teaching parents stress management techniques to a group in Arklow. She describes her programme as follows:
“The Health and Well-being course is an 8 week long course focused on aspects of parental support and tailored to reduce stress using holistic therapies.
The course contains;
~Aromatherapy: How essential oils work and their therapeutic actions. Safety when blending and diluting oils. We also make our own products such as cream, oils and mists.
~Skin Care: An in-depth analysis of the skin. How to care for your skin. Facial skin care using natural ingredients and focusing on different skin types including allergies like dermatitis and eczema (baby).
~The theory behind therapies such as reflexology, massage and Indian head. Outlining the techniques and physiological and psychological effects and benefits.
~Introduction to stress management, meditation, mindfulness and yoga poses to encourage relaxation of both body and mind.
This course provides the group with the tools and knowledge to feel more confident and more resilient”.
Wicklow Traveller Women’s Natural Healing Course
During Tutor Anne Shelley-Lacey’s course the women recalled stories about the traditional natural remedies used in the past in traveller culture. Some of the group remembered the herbal remedies used by grandmothers and mothers; traditions recalled but no longer used. One participant said the course “brought the past into the present”.
The group was interested to learn about the general revival of interest in alternative remedies using natural herbs and oils and the group had great fun foraging for herbs in CEART’S (Wicklow Traveller Development Groups) garden. These garden trips encouraged one woman to grow flowers from seeds with her daughter.
One participant was amazed at the progress her daughter made when she used a natural oil to help treat the symptoms of psoriasis. Also, the course explored the health benefits of drinking water and replacing fizzy children’s drinks with natural juices and shakes using berries and fruit.