Interagency partnership that furthers a shared ambition through co-ordinated effort and enhanced capacity is a cornerstone of the SOAR Project. Collaborating with schools and NTRIS STAR projects in the South Cluster region has enabled the project to support the delivery of culturally relevant support initiatives for young Travellers. The Supporting Traveller and Roma (STAR) pilot projectswere established in 2019 under the National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy (NTRIS) with the aim of improving attendance, participation and school completion in specific Traveller and Roma communities regionally. There are two pilot STAR projects in the South Cluster region – Wexford and Cork.
Miniature Wagon Building Programme
Barrell-top wagons are a recognisable symbol of Traveller, history and culture. Through this project Traveller students build miniature barrel-top wagons in school in recognition and celebration of their culture. The completed wagons were then showcased to family members and exhibited to the school community. Whilst the students develop practical, project completion and group work skills the project creates space for discussion, celebration and visibility of Traveller culture in the school. In 2022/23 eighty-six Traveller students engaged in the project from six post-primary school and seven primary schools in the South East region.
Robot Building Project
To foster an interest in STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mechanics) this project provides students with the opportunity to engage in practical STEAM skills in building a robot through a series of after school workshops. The project offers students the opportunity to learn new skills, engage in an alternative school activity and in doing so explore future education options.
Hair in the Traveller Community
This unique programme allows participants to explore hairstyling and the role it plays in Traveller culture; how hair rituals and practices in minority cultures allow an unspoked expression of identity. They also learn hair care and hairstyling skills that can be used outside and beyond school. Forty-eight Travellers students from four post primary schools in Co. Wexford have completed the programme.
Campus visits to SETU Carlow are arranged for participants on completion of programmes, where students engage in a tour of campus, sample activities, enjoy campus facilities and are informed of pathways and supports to access higher education.
PATH Administrator, SETU Carlow
The SOAR Project is also linked to the Cork City NTRIS STAR project through community partner the Traveller Visibility Group Ltd. In 2024 a group of Traveller women will complete the CPD Certificate in Community-Based Mentoring developed through the Connecting Communities, Connecting Curriculum work stream. It is envisaged the graduates will engage in mentoring initiatives with children, parents and schools participating in the STAR project.