From Castlebar - County Mayo -

Community Groups
A Strong Heart
By Aoife Kelly
22, Jun 2018 - 16:26

Mayo County Council in tandem with Sligo-based ‘Kids' Own' and a group of County Mayo children launch 'A Strong Heart': A book of stories and dreams for the future by Syrian & Palestinian children living in County Mayo

On Thursday 21st June 2018 at 4:30pm, Kids' Own Publishing Partnership hosted Syrian and Palestinian families and other community members at the Linenhall Arts Centre in Castlebar celebrating the launch of a brand new book of writings and art by migrant children living in County Mayo.

The book, A Strong Heart: A book of stories and dreams for the future by Syrian and Palestinian children living in County Mayo, was developed through a creative process alongside writer Mary Branley and artist Vanya Lambrecht Ward. The launch came as part of World Refugee Week, and the day after World Refugee Day, which the United Nation has declared for 20th June.

Initiated and developed by Kids' Own - and supported by Mayo County Council and South West Mayo Development Company - the project was part of a vision to offer a space for migrant children to develop their creativity and self-expression through an artistic process, and to publish a book that would foreground and give credence to their voices, lives and experiences.

Over five weeks, in April and May 2018, the group of children, who live in communities in County Mayo, came together with the artist and writer at the Linenhall Arts Centre, Castlebar, to develop the body of work that was to be brought together in their book. A Strong Heart: A book of stories and dreams for the future by Syrian and Palestinian children living in County Mayo, is a beautiful manifestation of the children's work, and will be disseminated widely after the launch.

Siofra Kilcullen, Head of Community Engagement with Mayo County Council said in relation to the project:

Mayo County Council, working with South West Development Company and other agencies has overseen the resettlement of 19 families from Syria and Palestine in Mayo under the UNHCR Refugee Resettlement Programme. We were delighted to support this beautiful project, led by Kids Own Publishing Partnership which puts the spotlight on the wonderful creative contribution these new communities are making to our County.'

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, said about World Refugee Day:

"This not about sharing a burden. It is about sharing a global responsibility, based not only the broad idea of our common humanity but also on the very specific obligations of international law. The root problems are war and hatred, not people who flee; refugees are among the first victims of terrorism."

As Ireland's only dedicated publisher of books by children, Kids' Own is committed to an ethos of social justice and social inclusion for children. Many previous Kids' Own titles have involved collaborations with children from minority cultures, or who have experienced social exclusion and whose voices and experiences are ignored by, or silent to mainstream culture.

Acting Director, Jo Holmwood, continues by stating:
"As Ireland celebrates 25 years since its ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, now, it is as important as ever that we continue to support children from all backgrounds to have a voice in our society and to be given a platform for their ideas and creative expression to be celebrated and valued."

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