Let’s Grow Together was initiated in January this year and was built on the success of the Young Knocknaheeny Area-based Childhood Programme. Photo: Margaret Weir

5 year plan to help children

A new organisation devoted to improving the lives of children on Cork city’s northside has launched its five strategic year plan.

Let’s Grow Together unveiled its new plan via a live webinar hosted by James Leonard and Timmy Long of the Two Norries Podcast.

The webinar featured three expert guest speakers from the Brazelton Institute at Boston Children's Hospital, as well as An Taoiseach Micheál Martin who was on hand to launch the event.

Let’s Grow Together was initiated in January this year and was built on the success of the Young Knocknaheeny Area-based Childhood Programme, running since 2015.

Funded by Government through the Area-based Childhood Programme (ABC), it is in Knocknaheeny but serves the entire northside of the city.

The strategic plan was developed to provide an opportunity to establish the organisation’s mission, vision, and values at an early stage.

The plan also lays out the organisation’s medium and long-term goals and objectives as well as addressing some fundamental questions.

Opening the floor was Chair of the board of Let's Grow Together Dave Cashman who first became involved in the Young Knocknaheeny programme in 2015 while teaching at Sunday’s Well BNS.

“At the time, Young Knocknaheeny was in its infancy, so we kind of grew up together. I could see the benefit that it had on the children in the ability to form healthy relationships. What it did for me as an educator was to show me the importance of the first three years of a child's life and how relationships children have with their parents, their care givers, including educators and teachers, make such a difference in the long-term wellbeing and resilience of the children in our communities,” he said.

Mr Cashman finished by quoting the organisation’s vision statement: “Our communities are places where children experience happy, healthy and thriving childhoods that last a lifetime and no child is left behind.”

Officially launching the five year strategic plan was An Taoiseach Micheál Martin TD who thanked the organisation for its contribution to Cork city.

“You are delivering critical services to children, young people and families, especially those who have experienced adversary in our city and our society. I know personally the impact that Young Knocknaheeny has had. You've made a profoundly positive difference in many areas, especially infant mental health where you are a leader in service improvement,” said the Taoiseach.

The five-year plan will fall across four main strategies - Infant mental health and wellbeing, speech, language and literacy, early years childhood care and education, and prosocial behaviour and self-regulation.

Programme manager Katherine Harford, who has managed the programme since Young Knocknaheeny began in 2015, said the programme is about working with everybody across the community who come into the lives of children.

Speaking from Boston Children's Hospital, Co-founder of the Brazelton Institute, Mullingar native Dr Kevin Nugent said: “This is one of the most remarkable and comprehensive programmes one could ever imagine anywhere in the world.”

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