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DkIT Students and Staff Participate in Unique Early Years Educational Project in Belgium

15 June 2023

DkIT staff and students from the Department of Creative Arts, Media and Music and Department of Nursing, Midwifery & Early Years have just returned from the final intensive project phase of their international Arts and Mindfulness in Education Strategic Partnership project at AP University of Applied Sciences and Arts in Antwerp, Belgium. The team collaborated with students and colleagues from Belgium, Holland, Norway, and Portugal and was funded by Erasmus Plus.

The aim of the Arts and Mindfulness in Education (AMiE) project was to provide European teachers with inspirational and supportive tools regarding the introduction of mindfulness in pre-primary and primary education. AMiE is unique as it uses the power of art and creative processes as a starting point for the introduction of mindfulness in a school context. For the intensive project, the team continued their work on the development of intellectual outputs that will inform and enhance future educational practices. They participated in a range of mindfulness and arts workshops (drum circle, body percussion, shadow and light, sensory massage, dance and drama). They also visited Hetpaleis, Antwerp's largest theatre for children, young people and performing artists. The team then presented the findings of the overall AMiE project at an international AMiE conference held at AP University. This was an opportunity to meet with educators from across Europe. At the conference, the participants had an opportunity to engage in a number of creative workshops to give them ideas on tools and techniques that could be used in a classroom setting.

The project team presented on each of the intellectual outputs developed as part of the project at the conference including a website, video lessons, a book on mindfulness activities for children, music to be used for mindfulness activities and a free online training programme. The ‘Calminder’ website is an innovative and interactive web-based application that serves as an inspirational tool for teachers in pre-primary and primary education for introducing mindfulness through arts in their daily educational contexts in the form of a weekly calendar containing 'ready-to-go' exercises. These resources will be freely available to educators, and they instigators look forward to hearing back from teachers who have used them in their classrooms and educational settings.

Students from BA (Hons) Early Childhood Studies, BA Theatre and Film Practice, BA (Hons) Audio and Music Production, BA (Hons) Music have all participated in the AMiE Strategic Partnership since it started in 2020. Speaking about the project, Dr Myles Hackett, Head of Department of Nursing, Midwifery & Early Years at DkIT, noted

the opportunity for staff to collaborate and form new relationships with EU colleagues as well as their colleagues in DkIT's Department of Creative Arts, Media and Music.  Moreover, this week-long event saw them further their understanding of mindfulness and arts, knowledge that will inform their future work in education.’

Dr Adèle Commins, Head of Department of Creative Arts, Media and Music, commented on the positive impact of these projects on a student’s learning:

It is wonderful for students to have the opportunity to participate in multi-disciplinary international teams and work on creative outputs. We have built up strong relationships with many of our European partners and see many benefits to collaborating on strategic partnerships for students, staff and the institutions including the advancement of research.’

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