Our Town: Our Future

Programme for Government & Collaborative Town Centre Health Check (CTCHC) Programme (Heritage Council) – October 2021

“Our Town: Our Future” – Capturing the Voice of Children and Young People as they explore their role in revitalising Ireland’s Historic Town Centers.

This exciting pilot proposal for Tralee from the Museum of Childhood Ireland, aims to contribute new perspectives on town centre environments, through the voice of children and young people, opening up conversations about planning policy, practice, citizenship, climate change and sustainability. Even though educationally, the curriculum encourages children to become agents in their own lives and  ‘potential agents of change in the wider community’ (Percy Smith and Burns, 2013), children have yet to be fully included in the everyday realities of policy making and planning practice.  This pilot proposal aims to change this.

Through engagement with schools, youth groups, students and adult stakeholders it is envisaged that:

  • Children and young people (primary cohort) engage with placemaking activities in their locality. Linking in with schools, pupils will complete model making based on their local environment. Discussions will centre upon children’s involvement and perceptions of change and continuity in their locality. Recognising the role that children play in society, children’s participation in decision making, play, recreation and association (UNCRC Article 12, 15, 31) will be discussed. As research has proven (Martin, 2021) children become aware of their rights and their citizenship as they engage with others and have the opportunity to engage with the community. This sense of belonging is grounded in educational practice and links with the primary school curriculum are evident. 
  • Secondary school students will be involved in a youth panel discussion. Using a youth led panel to engage students will allow for meaningful discussion, conversation and engagement. Using participatory frameworks such as Hear by Right (2010) and the Lundy Model (2007) members of the youth panel will discuss changes/perspectives of their own locality. Underpinning the CSPE Course in Secondary school is a focus on active citizenship, the youth panel builds on this – highlighting rights, responsibilities, stewardship and interdependence. These youth panels will help schools initiate dialogue on community building and citizenship. 
  • Engagement with younger children (U-5). Build, develop and extend our pilot Donnybrook community ‘fruit seed planting initiative’  which involved active engagement and creative participation with children (U-5) with a view to building environmental awareness and active citizenship. The apple is eaten, it’s seeds are planted, the sapling grows and is planted in the community, the tree grows and provides fruit to be eaten…This also directly links in with the Aistear Curriculum for Early childhood, building upon and helping children to develop an awareness of the community in which they live. 

Example of primary curricular links (3rd class) are outlined in the following table: 

Science – Strand: Environmental Awareness
Strand Unit: Environmental Awareness and Care That the child will be enabled to:Identify positive aspects of natural and built environments through observation, discussion and recording 
Geography – Strand: Human Environments
Strand Unit: Living in the local communityThat the child will be enabled to:Explore, investigate and come to appreciate the major features of the built environment in the locality and in a contrasting part of Ireland Become aware of the natural features in the locality and in a contrasting part of Ireland and their relationship to the lives of people living in these places Become aware of forms of transport and transport routes in the locality and in a contrasting part of Ireland 
Strand Unit: People and PlacesBegin to develop a sense of belonging to local, county, national, European and global communities
Social Personal and Health Education (SPHE) – Strand: Myself and the Wider World
Strand Unit: Developing CitizenshipThat the child will be enabled to:Explore and recognise the rights and responsibilities of both adults and children in the school community Examine how justice, fairness and equality may or may not be exemplified in a community Explore some of the issues and concerns in the local or national communityDiscuss the role of leaders and organisations that serve the community at different levels and the influence that they have 
Strand: Myself Strand unit: Self IdentityThat the child will be enabled to:Express personal opinions, feelings, thoughts and ideas with growing confidence Strand Unit: Making Decisions Become aware of and think about choices and decisions that he/she makes every day Discuss why and how adults can make decisions and set boundaries for young people Recognise and explore how the views, opinions, expectations and responses of others can influence personal decisions or actions 

From November 2021 the programme will be rolled out across Ireland and we look forward to hearing from schools who’d love to be part of the project:


Tel: 087 681 6760


About the CTCHC Programme: