By Mary Hickey, Bessborough Early Years Service.
Growing up in Lockdown – How our group of toddlers made a community smile.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Leo Buscaglia
Our story begins with the lead up to Valentine’s Day. Our wonderful Bumblebees are busy with the usual Valentine’s Day arts and crafts, from heart shaped confetti to red card when Daniel came to the table holding an ‘An Post’ postcard. Daniel said, “I write a letter for my mommy and daddy”. This inspired the other children to, like Daniel, start to write postcards to their parents. As I observed the children use their creativity to write postcards, it was time to use my own creativity and think ‘where do we go from here?’
I noticed Myrna role playing being at a market stall at Mahon Point Farmers Market, part of her local community and this is where it all began…
I thought about how I could help the children to connect with their local community. Using the children’s interest in the post cards we set out on a mission, a mission to make as many people smile as possible, a mission to enable children to learn about their community, a community that they are part of but sadly have not yet explored to its full potential due to a whirlwind of a year.
We spoke to our postman Ted who kindly obliged and brought in 184 postcards to the Bumblebee’s. We then explored the different roles people in our community have through our toys, Lego, construction, and role play. The list of jobs was endless, the list of community volunteers was endless, importantly the learning outcomes were thriving.
Bumblebees spent a few weeks ‘writing’ postcards. They used pencils to make their marking on the back of the postcard and dabbed their fingerprints on the front, their names were written next to their fingerprints. We then decided where the postcards should go and included some personalised messages to thank people for their hard work and dedication over the last year.
170 postcards were sent across Ireland and 14 postcards were sent to our children’s parents leaving the children filled with happiness and excitement knowing they are going to make so many people smile. The cards were sent to places like our local Credit Union, Cork Penny Dinners, Child Paths, the RNLI, Cork’s Red FM, the English Market, SouthDoc, Fota Wildlife Park, Cork City Childcare and Early Childhood Ireland.
What happened next took us all by surprise……
Our Bumblebees started to receive postcard replies. The first was from Tir Na Sí farm who kindly sent the children a letter with farm updates and pictures of the animals. We received messages of thanks and some lovely chocolate treats, educational resource packs and lots of contact to say the children had lifted the spirits of so many people. I couldn’t be prouder!
Overall, the postcard exchange has been an unbelievable project to take part in, the warm reception it received from parents, businesses and the general public has been so positive and completely exceeded our expectations.
“If you see a person without a smile, give them one of yours”. Zig Ziglar.
My name is Mary Hickey, I am an Early Years Educator at Bessborough Centre Creche for the last 8 years.