The Media Initiative for Children (MIFC) was developed by Early Years, the organisation for young children in Northern Ireland, and Pii, the Peace Initiatives Institute in the USA. This respecting difference programme is aimed at young children aged 3–6 and it combines cartoon messages around diversity with an early years programme. Together they aim to promote positive attitudes to physical, social and cultural differences amongst young children, practitioners and parents. The messages also address bullying behaviours.
The cartoons are set in a play park and feature characters young children can easily identify with. The messages in the cartoons are reinforced in the early years setting through the use of resources and interactive activities that prompt children to talk about their feelings and attitudes to the issues explored in the cartoons.
MIFC aims to: increase awareness of difference in Northern Ireland among children, parents and teachers; help young children to understand what it feels like to be excluded and encourage them to be more willing to include children who are different; encourage young children to demonstrate respect and include others who are different, rather than ridiculing, fighting or rejecting them; make respecting difference a very real experience for young children and something that can be shared with their families.
The training of practitioners to implement the programme is a vital component of this initiative. Through training, diversity is translated into practice as practitioners and teachers are helped maximise the potential of the MIFC resources.
The programme was recently subjected to a Randomised Controlled Trial across 74 settings in Northern Ireland and Ireland and was one of the largest of its kind ever carried out internationally. The final report showed robust evidence that the MIFC had a significant impact on young children’s attitudes to difference and on their socio-emotional development.
|Keywords:||Difference, Respect, Ethnicity, Sectarianism, Race, Bullying|
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