US project changes lives in Limerick

AN innovative and proven US behaviour intervention programme for disadvantaged children and their families in Limerick is radically changing lives, according to those using and implementing it.

Incredible Years (IY), which works with existing resources, operates in schools and agencies across the city with children up to age 12, and sometimes their parents.

The results of an evaluation are set to be published later this year. According to Fiona O’Grady from the Paul Partnership which helps to implement IY, it will show that children’s behaviour is improving and that the results can be scientifically measured.

She said the project is working in the most deprived and difficult areas.

Trish Griffin, a teacher at Our Lady of Lourdes National School said she uses Dina the Dinosaur and Wally the hand puppet to teach her pupils, four and five, how to cope with the challenges of life.

“I have noticed a massive difference in the children. They are much more confident and can deal with situations that they could not before,” said Ms Griffin.

“Language is big part of it. Many have very poor language skills and so we give the words to describe who they are feeling so it gives them a voice. We learn about manners, complimenting friends and to communicate.”

Parents Julianne Ryan and Olivia Carmody, who are availing of a programme for parents, say their children can express themselves and control their emotions.

Ms Ryan said she has a stronger relationship with her child, who explain how he is feeling whether it is frustrated or annoyed.

“He is well able to control his emotions now and rather than get angry he will take a deep breath and calm himself down. I have two other sons, seven and two, and it improves them as well,” she says.

Mary Maguire, a home school teacher who mostly works with parents said she would like to see more involved but said there are often issues around literacy, child-minding and other such things. Funded by HSE and Limerick regeneration, SVP, the beauty of the programme is that it is delivered through existing resources — teachers, public health workers, social workers, and the National Educational Psychological Service.

Ms O’Grady said it is crucial that everyone works together.

“There has been a very positive approach across the city, and it is very effective to have everyone on board. The project encompasses a range of interventions from infant programmes to toddler programmes, preschool parenting and in school.”


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