Staff, parents and future pupils gather at the official opening of Rowandale Community Playgroup. Performing the honours were Baroness May Blood (centre, L) and Marie Cowan (centre R) of the Integrated Education Fund which awarded a grant to support the new facility. The preschool playgroup, which is in Moira, is now taking applications for places in September. Pic by Declan Roughan.
Baroness May Blood sees Ethan Foster and Caltriona Lynch safely Into Rowandale Community Playgroup which she officially opened. Baroness Blood is Campaign Chair of the Integrated Education Fund which gave a grant to support the opening of the new preschool facility. Pic by Declan Roughen.
BARONESS May Blood MBE received a warm welcome when she brought a party from the Integrated Education Fund to preview the new playgroup, due to open at Rowandale Integrated Primary School near Moira this autumn.
The Integrated Education Fund (IEF) is the charitable fund established in 1992 to provide a financial foundation for the development and growth of integrated education in Northern Ireland.
School Principal Frances Hughes hosted a visit from Baroness Blood, who is Campaign Chair of the IEF, and the IEF Chair, Marie Cowan to the purpose-built facility, set up with the help of an IEF grant. The IEF were able to channel donations from its Increasing Places in Integrated Schools programme, thanks to generous donations from supporters.
The new playgroup is located on the Clarehill Road and it offers a bright, spacious and stimulating indoor space with a canopied outside area for outdoor play.
Frances Hughes said: "We are so pleased to be able to welcome pre-school age children into Rowandale. The playgroup, which has the same ethos as Rowandale Integrated Primary School, aims to introduce children to the joy of learning in a safe, happy and secure environment. I know that the staff will enhance the development and education of each child by offering excellent play facilities in an environment where mutual respect and inclusion are at the heart of our integrated ethos."
Marie Cowan (L) Chair of the Integrated Education Fund and Baroness May Blood, the Fund's Campaign Chair, explore the fun facilities at the new community playgroup at Rowandale Integrated Primary School with some future pupils. Pic by Declan Roughen.
On officially opening the playgroup, Baroness Blood commented: "It is fantastic to see more pre-school places on offer in this area, and I'm particularly glad that this new facility is introducing children to the integrated ethos from an even earlier age. I am passionately committed to seeing children learn, play and grow together without segregation, and I'm pleased to see this opportunity being offered to young children in the Moira area.
The children enjoyed trying out the brand new toys, and made the most out of the state of-the art facility.
Rowandale Community Playgroup offers places for 16 children in the wider Moira area and they are currently taking applications for entry in September. The playgroup offers a half-day session for children aged two years ten months and upwards. The building is also going to be used for after school and wrap around care during the summer holidays - the most recent developments at Rowandale Integrated Primary School which opened in September 2007.