ON Sunday August 5 at 2:30pm at Mudiad Meithrin’s stall on the grounds of the Cardiff National Eisteddfod of Wales the Mudiad will launch its Ambassadors project by announcing that its first ambassadors are Shereen Williams and Siôn Tomos Owen.
The aim of the Ambassadors project is to show examples of a cross-section of parents that have chosen Welsh-medium education for their children (and their reasons for doing so) in the hope that more parents, escpecially those from mixed language or who are non-Welsh-speaking, will choose Welsh-medium education for their children.
The intention is to show that Welsh belongs to everyone in Wales irrespective of their background, whilst also showing the support available for non-Welsh-speaking families to support their children through Welsh-medium education as well as the benefits to the children of doing this.
Siôn Tomos Owen is well known for singing the praises of his native Rhondda but now the author, cartoonist, television presenter and father has agreed to be an ambassador for Mudiad Meithrin, the charity that aims to give every child in Wales the opportunity to enjoy early years services and experiences through the medium of Welsh.
Indeed, Siôn was brought up speaking Welsh as his first language and attended his local Cylch Meithrin (Welsh-medium playgroup) before continuing his Welsh-medium education at Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Ynyswen.
But Siôn admits that deciding on Welsh-medium education for his daughter, Eira Lily, was not cut and dried, partly because his wife comes from a non-Welsh speaking family. But Siôn is keen for other parents, one or both of whom don’t speak Welsh, to choose Welsh-medium education for their children.
“Only one generation has to take advantage of choosing Welsh-medium education for their children to allow the Welsh language to grow in that child, and as I have seen many times, parents learn with their children, but by the time they reach secondary school, children change so easily between the two languages it is completely natural to change from one to the other,” said Siôn,
He added: “As someone who is bilingual, the opportunities I have been afforded because I speak two languages has been of great benefit, so if it becomes of economic worth. By the time our children grow up it will be an essential part of their careers and everyday life – at least I hope so.”
The Mudiad’s second Ambassador, Shereen Williams, is originally from Singapore, and is married to Owain, and a mother to two sons who are now at primary school. Shereen is well-known in equality and diversity fields and has been acknowledged internationally for her work.
Shereen said: “It wasn’t difficult to choose Welsh-medium education and actually it was something we had decided on even before we had children. My biggest worry was not being able to support them in their education as I wasn’t a Welsh speaker. My husband had spoken to the headteacher of a local Welsh-medium school who told him that would not be a problem and that we would be supported as a family on this journey.
“Whenever I had any concerns or worries, I would engage with the school and staff would always be there to support me. The families who make the choice to send their children through this route make an active choice to go on this journey with the school staff and that sense of being part of the same team comes through not only in the teaching but also through the parental interaction.”
Mudiad Meithrin’s Chief Executive, Dr Gwenllïan Lansdown Davies, said:
“Every national organisation has its heroes and our heroes are those parents and families that choose Welsh-medium child care and education for their children. It is completely appropriate and timely that we celebrate the work of our silent heroes by drawing attention to the suppport of two exceptional parents that are supportive of the work and mission of Mudiad Meithrin.”