GOAL, in partnership with the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education at Maynooth University, launched an exciting new classroom resource aimed at teaching junior and senior infants about global development issues through drama and dance.
Titled, “Water, Come to Me!” the resource is a series of lessons aimed at making junior and senior infants aware—in a fun and engaging way—of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and how they can contribute to making this a better world. The resource was inspired by the true-life bestselling book The Water Princess by Susan Verde and Peter H. Reynolds, which is based on the childhood experience of supermodel and activist, Georgie Badiel (Gie Gie) in Burkina Faso, a small country in West Africa. The story of Gie Gie, who had to walk a long way every morning to get clean water for her family, is brought to life in the classroom through eight lessons. Gie Gie could not go to school because of the daily walk to the well, and her story is used to help children view the world through someone else’s eyes and to increase their understanding of challenges faced by people around the world. The resources highlights the importance of access to clean water and raise questions about gender roles and power. Children are invited to make connections between their own lives, and the lives of children in other countries. The resource partnership was initiated by Louise Merrigan of GOAL, who began a conversation with Dr Stokes late last year after an approach from teachers who said there was a need for a Development Education resource for the infant age group.
GOAL is passionate about ensuring that young people understand a sustainable, equitable and fair future is achievable and equipping them with the tools to help contribute to this future. GOAL is currently offering a Development Education program for 3rd to 6th classes in Primary Schools, as well as a programme for secondary schools. It recently launched the GOAL Changemakers Award to help introduce the SDGs to the primary school classroom (3rd-6th classes) and to encourage classes to share their local actions for global change. The new resource puts the SDGs into context for children and raises awareness around the importance of clean water access issues around gender inequalities.
Speaking at the launch of the resource, GOAL Deputy CEO Mary Van Lieshout said: “This is an exciting introduction to global solidarity for our youngest children, and will help build a sense of global citizenship from a very early age. The Infant classes were one of the missing links in our Development Education Programme and we are delighted that, in collaboration with Maynooth University, we can now fill this gap.
She added: “The resource supports the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which Ireland, together with the other 192 UN countries, is committed to achieving by 2030. These Global Goals have the power to end poverty, fight inequality, stop climate change and protect our oceans, flora and fauna. “We are witnessing a strong sense of justice and a fierce passion and commitment to challenge global injustice from children we meet in the classroom. We want these young people to take action for a sustainable world, and it is great that we will now be doing this with junior and senior infant pupils.”
Dr Triona Stokes of the Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education said: “I relished the opportunity to write a dance and drama development education resource for the attention of the younger classes in the primary school, too often overlooked for fear of overburdening them with challenging content. It is my belief that we must begin early our introduction of complex themes such as female agency at home and afar with young children, and how it might be impacted by their right to education and to clean water.
“Using active learning methods, children are invited to enter a fictional journey with a young Gie Gie Badiel, as her long daily journey for water with her mother is recreated through dance. Over a series of eight lessons, responses to contrasting moments of light and dark, hope and despair on the journey are facilitated, with Burkina Faso as the setting. Through the art form, participant children are encouraged to examine Gie Gie’s agency or lack thereof. Critical questions about access to, and use of, the water here in Ireland are raised. Following the artistic exploration, talk and discussion are used to examine the Sustainable Development Goals in relation to the content of the narrative, and moving beyond that as a call to action.”