‘Buddy Up!’ is a creative, simple way for schools, children, families and groups to meet across the traditional divides, as they learn, play and share stories with each other. The scheme was originally run by Community Relations In School (CRIS) with Holy Cross Nursery School and Edenderry Nursery School in Belfast, and is now being rolled out in schools across Northern Ireland.
Speaking at the launch at Stormont, Chris Lyttle MLA said: “I believe the single biggest challenge we face to achieve our potential in education, economic growth and societal well-being is to tackle division and build a united community.
“Last year, I sponsored a visit by children, parents and teachers to Stormont where they were able to stress the importance of the ‘Buddy Up’ scheme to building good relations in interface areas of Belfast and beyond.
“I welcome the support of the Irish Government Department of Foreign Affairs for this approach as whilst the First and Deputy First Ministers listed the roll out of a buddy scheme as a key action in their ‘Together: Building a United Community’ strategy in 2013, their long term support for their approach is now well overdue.
“‘Buddy Up!’ is a real model for shared collaboration between schools, where we can challenge perceptions and break down barriers.
“One of the mottos of CRIS is that change happens at the speed of trust and I am confident this scheme will accelerate that speed of change.”