Over 11,000 Kilkenny students asked to compete

Minister of State with special responsibility for Disabilities, Finian McGrath T.D. today marked the launch of “Someone Like Me”, a new national primary schools’ art competition organised by the Department of Justice and Equality as a way of developing children’s understanding of disabilities to help celebrate the aspects that make them and their classmates unique.

More than 11,000 pupils from 78 mainstream and special primary schools across Co. Kilkenny will be invited to take part in the competition which aims to highlight the similarities that exist between all people and foster more positive attitudes towards people with a disability.

Speaking at the launch, Minister of State with special responsibility for Disabilities, Finian McGrath T.D., said: “There are more than 600,000 people in Ireland with a disability, of which 53,000 are children under the age of 15.”

“Ireland prides itself in being an inclusive society and yet research shows us that there is a hardening of attitudes towards people with a disability across all types of impairments,” he continued.

“This cannot be allowed to continue which is why this competition is so important. By encouraging primary school pupils to gain a greater awareness of what unites children of differing abilities, we hope to help a future generation of adults to develop a better understanding of disability and form more positive attitudes so that everyone, irrespective of ability or disability, feels that they are a valued member of society.

“As a former teacher and school principal, it is particularly important to me to ensure that teachers are given the support they need to introduce this topic into the classroom within the context of the wider curriculum. I would like to congratulate the Department of Justice and Equality for creating comprehensive junior and senior lesson plans which culminate in pupils creating pieces of art in a way that allows them to critically think about disability and to respond in a well-thought out, creative process.

“I would encourage as many teachers and pupils as possible to take part in this competition and look forward to congratulating the winners in December.”

Someone Like Me art competition literature, to include lesson plans, will be delivered to every primary school in Ireland over the coming days. .

The competition, which offers a range of prizes up to the value of €750, is open to all primary school pupils from junior infants to sixth class and entries are welcome from individual pupils, a class group or even a whole-school as a combined effort. Entries can come in all shapes and sizes and can be anything from a poster or collage to a papier-mâché or mixed-media sculpture.

Among the judges will be Dublin based visual artist Beth O’Halloran. Beth studied at The National College of Art and Design and at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology. She has exhibited widely in Ireland and in the U.S, London and Japan. She lectures in Fine Art at NCAD and teaches drawing and History of Art in the National Gallery and the Hugh Lane Gallery. Through the artist's panel at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Beth facilitates workshops for all ages, connecting the public, through their own practices, with contemporary art.