Local schools urged to sign up for holocaust education project

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galway daily news holocaust education project with mary mcaleese
Mary McAleese pictured with Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental and Suzi Diamond and children from Cootehall National school. Pic: Marc O'Sullivan

Mary McAleese has officially launched Holocaust Education Ireland’s Crocus Project by planting crocus bulbs in her garden in Roscommon with the help of local schoolchildren.

The yellow flowers, recalling the yellow Stars of David, will bloom around the time of International Holocaust Memorial Day on 27 January.

Holocaust Education Ireland is encouraging schools in Galway to register to participate in the project ahead of the registration deadline this Friday, 28 October.

The Crocus Project commemorates all the children who perished in the Holocaust, and aims to educate schoolchildren over the age of ten about the Holocaust and the dangers of racism, all forms of discrimination and hatred.

Speaking at the launch this week, Professor Thomas O’Dowd, Chairperson of Holocaust Education Ireland, said: “We are delighted to have former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, launch our annual Crocus Project this week, and we are encouraging schools in Galway to register to participate before the deadline passes.

“The project is an important opportunity to introduce young people to the subject of the Holocaust, and teach the importance of inclusion and respect for all people regardless of their ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religious beliefs.

“Seeing the flowers bloom in the early new year ensures that the stories of the children who perished in the Holocaust are not forgotten but are passed on to future generations, while educating our young people in a tangible way about the perils of prejudice.

“The beautiful flowers also remind us that, even after the most terrible events, new life begins again and we can have hope in the future.”

Mary McAleese said she is delighted to support The Crocus Project.

“The lesson of the Holocaust is one of the most important lessons for children to learn and the Crocus Project is a gentle way to introduce young people to the subject,” said the former president.

“The project will sow the seeds of inclusivity, justice and acceptance into the minds of the next generation so that, through learning from the terrible mistakes of the past, we can build a more caring and inclusive Ireland.”

There is no charge for participating in the Crocus Project. Holocaust Education Ireland provides teachers and educators with crocus bulbs and a Teacher’s Handbook as well as guidance about the project that includes information and age appropriate material.

The handbook is available in English and as Gaeilge as well as twelve European languages to ensure that children in Ireland and across Europe can fully participate in the project.

The Crocus Project is co-funded by the European Union and supported by the Department of Education.

Schools interested in registering to become involved in the project can do so here.

Further information on the project is available here.