Scoil Chlann Naofa in Ballinamore is in a celebratory mood this week as the judges of a prestigious national art competition have named it Senior County winner, placing it in the running for what has become a much sought-after national title.
The artistic efforts of sixth class pupil Ella Van Der Laan from Scoil Chlann Naofa, Ballinamore have paid off as her imaginative ‘Someone Like Me’ submission was singled out by the competition’s judges - Sinéad Burke, Mark Maguire and Caomhán Mac Con Iomaire - for being exceptionally insightful and inspirational.
The competition, which is entitled ‘Someone Like Me’, is sponsored by the Department of Justice and Equality. It aims to promote disability awareness among primary school children and give them a greater understanding of what unites children of differing abilities. Now an annual initiative, ‘Someone Like Me’ allows children to learn about and discuss these topics and creatively express what they have learned through art and craft.
The entry from Scoil Chlann Naofa, Ballinamore, named as Senior County winner, was created by 6th Class pupil Ella Van Der Laan with teacher Noel McKeon. A sensitively drawn piece in pen and pencil, showing three friends playing together beside water.
One friend is swimming whilst a girl with a prosthetic leg is in mid-swing into the water on a tire-swing, to join her friend. The third character illustrated watches on from the riverbank, waving encouragement.
The entry submitted by Ella Van Der Laan of Scoil Chlann Naofa, Ballinamore
Congratulating the school on becoming a county winner, Minister of State with special responsibility for Disabilities, Finian McGrath T.D. said that he was hugely encouraged by the number of competition entries.
“This year we received more than 2,000 entries from 25 counties which means that teachers and pupils right across the country have taken the time to think carefully about the similarities that exist between all people and to consider other people and other people’s feelings,” he said.
“There are more than 600,000 people in Ireland with a disability, of which 53,000 are children under the age of 15. Initiatives like this are an important part of the work carried out by the Department of Justice and Equality to promote inclusiveness and I am delighted to see so many schools take part.
“While I know that it will be an anxious wait for the pupils and teachers to hear which of the entries has been awarded the national title, the reality is that we are all winners. Everyone who has taken part will have developed a better understanding of disability and formed more positive attitudes simply by thinking about treating others the way that they like to be treated themselves. That can only lead to a more inclusive Ireland where everyone, irrespective of ability or disability, is a valued member of society.”
The school will now go on to compete with 46 other schools from around the country for the overall national “Someone Like Me” award which will be announced by the Minister for State with special responsibility for Disabilities Finian McGrath, TD, at a ceremony at Dublin City Hall on Monday December 4.
The competition, which offers a range of prizes up to the value of €750 was open to all primary school pupils from junior infants to sixth class and over 2,000 entries were received from individual pupils, class groups and whole schools right across Ireland. Entries ranged from posters and collages to large sculptural installations and multi-media pieces.