Irish Students are the first outside of the USA to experience Playworks Phenomenon!

October 22, 2013
Release Date: 
October 22, 2013

An exciting new chapter begins for some very lucky children and their teachers in Galway, Ireland today! The life changing Playworks programme will be introduced to the country for the very first time in a playground in Newcastle in the heart of the city of Galway this morning. This programme which has brought joy, security, peace and understanding to thousands of school playgrounds across the United States will today take its first steps outside of the US with the help of The Galway Education Centre, under the direction of the visionary Bernard Kirk and in partnership with Ashoka Ireland through their Change Nation initiative.

The children of The Educate Together School in Newcastle and their teachers will begin a week long period of training and fun, by the end of which they will be true practitioners and benefactors of this useful and simple tool which makes the lunch time break a thing never to be dreaded in the school time schedule again. The programme involves the introduction of a more structured approach to playing in the school yard. Methods are employed by the supervising teachers and the students to insure fair-play is taking place where inclusion, honour, honesty and respect are a given. As part of the programme, each participating school is also given play equipment and a playbook outlining new ways of playing "old school" games as well as completely new games that promote healthy play and inclusion during break.

Playworks was first introduced in the United States in 1996 when Jill Vialet, after speaking with a principal became increasingly aware of the unhappy and sometimes unsafe nature of play which was happening at playtime in the school yard. Jill saw an opportunity to change this and make it a positive and productive time for all kids and so Playworks was born.

Speaking at the launch, Ciaran Cannon, Minister for Training & Skills at the Department of Education said;

“I am delighted that Galway Education Centre is involved in bringing another Change Nation project to the schools in Galway. These are global projects which will have a profound and lasting effect in improving the lives of our young people.”

Bernard Kirk, Director of The Galway Education Centre echoed these sentiments saying;  

“We spend a lot of time working on serious educational projects with students in both primary and second level schools in this country. To work in partnership with Ashoka Ireland and add a programme like Playworks to this portfolio is wonderful for us. Playworks will provide the basis for learning which is necessary for further child development, allowing children to explore their imaginations, to connect with other people and to grow physically, emotionally and socially.”

This pilot is being undertaken as part of Change Nation, an initiative of Ashoka Ireland, which is seeking to spread these innovations and build a culture of change making in Ireland. Director of Ashoka Ireland Serena Mizzoni commented;

"Play is such an important way to build empathy and creativity in children, and foster collaboration and leadership. These are all skills that will be hugely important for children as they grow up in a rapidly changing world."    

The Galway Education Centre is a leading centre for further professional development for teachers which has in the past number of years been responsible for running programmes such as FIRST LEGO League and The CREST Awards here in Ireland. The centre has also introduced additional educational programmes such as Jump Maths and is the regional centre for the Confucius Centre in Ireland. Change Nation is a growing movement connecting change makers from around Ireland with the world's leading social entrepreneurs, to launch and spread proven innovations.

For further press information, photography or to arrange an interview please email Siobhán at Spotlight Communications: