Once more, Carina, Daniela, Julie and Mariangela, and local facilitator Lorraine McHugh prepared a Summer Camp, funded by the Leitrim Childcare Committee, this time with a focus only on Ukrainian children staying in the local area. Between the 22nd and 25th of August, the team created a safe space for the kids to contact with their creative side as well as practice their English.  

The Drumshanbo Sunflower Summer Camp took place in Lough Allen Hotel. Within one room we manage to create several stations, giving the children the possibility to try many different activities. On the last day everyone got the chance to paint their face by Julie with a design of their choice. Again, this proved to be one of everyone’s favourite activity. 

Creative Stations 

Although all activities promote creativity, there were two spots that allowed for creation of a two-dimensional version of their ideas. One allowed for free drawing every day and the other for the opportunity to personalise specific objects to their own taste.  

On the first day, each of the kids created their own caterpillar out of a sock filled with grains. On the second day, they created their own magic wands. The base of the wand was a small wood stick to which they added their own personal twist. On the third day, they painted their own necklaces. A common theme, given it was Ukraine Independence Day, was to paint the Ukrainian Flag on one side of the medallion and the Irish on the opposite. Most of the kids added a heart to both sides of the pendant, which could be seen not only as love for their own country, but also love for the country that as welcomed them. 

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Reading station 

This section was designed for the older kids that wanted to take the challenge of reading in another language. It contained multiple genres of books and stories with various degree of difficulty, allowing whoever chose this corner to travel to another world. Most of the books were written and illustrated as tools to learn English. There was quite a variety of themes, from the typical fairy tales to more educational storylines. 

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Lego Station 

All type of Lego were available in this table, allowing the kids who chose this sector to build their own world. A range of existing and fictional vehicles were created, as well as circuits, and buildings. This became one of the favourite stations in the Drumshanbo Sunflower Summer Camp. 

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Station focused on care for the Environment and its habitants 

The focus of this station was to provide tools to recognise and express feelings and learn English in a creative way, while presenting simultaneously an assort of environmentally friendly vocabulary and practices. Furthermore, to complement all activities provided in this section the GEAI (Good Energies Alliance Ireland) team prepared a Pictionary. The vocabulary within this handbook will hopefully aid the kids in the upcoming school year. It contains general expressions and words with the respective illustration to express feelings and needs. It can be accessed here. 

Out of toilet paper rolls, colourful pieces of paper and a little help from the volunteers, kids created their own animals – rabbits, butterflies, ladybugs, and caterpillars. 

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Messy play 

The final station required creativity, but also played with a sensorial factor. On the first two days, they played with playdough creating shapes and forms to their imagination measure. On the third day, they had the opportunity to partake in two activities. In the first activity they were taught how to plant sunflower seeds and how to tend to them. We hope that these sunflowers thrive within their new homes. The second activity consisted of painting with your hands. It was one of the messiest, but also one that made the kids have the most fun. On the last day, instead of playing with playdough, kids were given a mixture of water and cornflour. This mixture will present a particular behaviour with the right quantity of each ingredient. It will move as a liquid, but when you touch it, it breaks almost like a solid. 

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Conclusion

This year has been challenging for these families in a degree that we cannot comprehend. More than creating a temporary space and materials, the Summer Camp goal was to provide something that will smooth out the transition into the upcoming school year. The GEAI team and Lorraine believe this was successfully achieve and are happy to continue to accompany their integration locally. 

Written by: Carina Castanheta