A Bright Light: Stories and artwork by children from families who foster in counties Sligo and Leitrim

A Bright Light - Workshops

A Bright Light - Workshops

A Bright Light - Workshops

A Bright Light - Workshops

A Bright Light - Stopmotion creation


Seven young people collaborated on this project, aged 12 and over. These young people have experience of their families providing foster care.


A Bright Light came about as a result of an earlier Kids’ Own collaborative book project with children and young people who had experience of living in foster care. The fostering team in the Sligo / Leitirm / West Cavan division knew how important it is to hear the perspective of children whose families foster, and that this group of children’s voices have not been heard and responded to widely enough.

Project aims included:

  • Collaborate with children of foster carers through a meaningful creative process, to produce a book on their experiences of fostering
  • Encourage a sense of community and feeling of support among participating children and young people with similar lived experiences.


Kids’ Own is a children’s arts organisation and publishing house. We are driven by a passionate belief in the intrinsic value of the arts in children’s lives; as a source of joy, fulfilment and connection. We work to give children greater access to cultural expression and to be actively creating, enquiring, communicating and making meaning through the arts. Our ethos is rooted in professional arts practice and we produce professionally published outputs (in print and online), and exhibitions that elevate the status of children’s voices and artwork and bring these to a wider audience.

We make books by bringing children and young people together with professional artists and writers. The children and young people work alongside the artist and writer, where they have the opportunity to experience a creative process, express themselves, and have fun together.

Kids’ Own strongly believes that children have a right to engage meaningfully with the arts and creativity. It is so important to hear children and young people’s voices more widely in our society; we know children and young people have so much to say, and we think that the arts and creativity is a really important way of ensuring young people can have their voices heard, and listened to and responded to by others in society.

The young people worked collaboratively with artist Karina Nachbar and writer Mary Branley, and created different types of art together, including making stop-motion animation videos with Karina. Alongside this, they spoke with Mary about their experiences of having foster siblings. This dialogue between writer, artist, and young person always ensures that the young person is leading the conversation.

The process starts by getting to know each other – having conversations and starting to make some creative marks. It can be daunting making a start on a blank page or canvas so there were a lot of warm up creative exercises.

The creative process of making our books is different for each book. This time, the young people made stop motion animations with the artist Karina. They developed characters and a storyline for their animation, made the figures with clay/plasticine, made the backgrounds and sets, and filmed the animation using an app.

The creation of these animations was something fun and joyful that the young people could enjoy doing together. The animations and the process of making the animations provide the visuals in the book, and alongside this really fun and quirky artwork, there are the real stories of the young people and their experiences of having foster siblings.

These stories develop through the young person having a conversation with our project writer Mary. During the project, project writer Mary would continually say how amazing the young people participating were – how wise and insightful they are. The young people’s wisdom and generosity is evident in the stories in this book.

Dr Liam Whyte, Area Manager – Sligo Leitrim West Cavan, notes: ‘What emerges through the artwork and narratives in this book and the accompanying animation is the very positive experience and sense of warmth, love and caring exhibited by these children towards the children and young people who come to live with them. Bonds and attachments develop between all the children and this is clearly evident through the stories told.’

Artistic Outputs

The result of this collaborative project was a book entitled A Bright Light: Stories and artwork by children from families who foster in counties Sligo and Leitrim.

The book is available to buy at www.kidsown.ie/bookshop

The stop-motion animations made by the young people are available to watch here: https://kidsown.ie/watch-our-children-who-foster-projects-creative-stop-motion-animations/

Evaluation Methodology

The project was monitored and evaluated throughout through meetings with the project steering group comprised of members of the Foster Care Resource Service for Sligo, Leitrim, and West Cavan, including Anne McGloine (Social Work Team Leader), Niamh Duffy and Rachel Walshe.

They said: ‘Children who are part of families who foster make a valuable contribution to the lives of children in care and this partnership between TUSLA and Kids’ Own afforded us an opportunity to listen to the voices of children who foster… This book has created an awareness and deeper understanding of both the joys and challenges inherent in fostering.’

Evaluation Outcomes

The children reflected on their lives and the importance of having their voices heard throughout the project. The project allowed them to reflect on important parts of their lived experiences.

Comments from the young people include:

Describing who they are and why they made a book together, the young people said: ‘We are a group of children and young people who live in the northwest of Ireland. What we have in common is that our families foster children… We think it’s important that everyone understands what this is all about, what the experience is like and to give us a voice as well.’

A lot has changed since we took in our little sisters. Because for most of my life it was just me and my twin sister. It was a big change, but we wanted to help out our family, but ever since they’ve come it’s like a bright light in the family, having them there.’ – Eleanor

It can be hard on the family where the kids come from and also on the kids themselves. It’s good for us, because we know they are coming to a good place, and it can be hard when you have a good connection with them and they move to another foster family or back to their family of origin.

In the five years since we became a foster family, we’ve become closer as a family because we talk more, and get on with each other better. At the moment, we have children with us since their birth and maybe we will go on to adopt them.’ – KT

Documentation and Dissemination

The project was documented through audio recordings made with the children and photographs of the creative process. Pseudonyms were chosen by the participating young people and these are used throughout the book.

The audio recordings and photographs of the young people’s original artwork were used to develop the resulting book publication.

The book was disseminated widely through the Foster Care Resource Team’s networks and Kids’ Own will continue to disseminate the book through our own networks. Copies of the book will soon be available in libraries throughout Ireland.


Foster Care Resource Service for Sligo, Leitrim, and West Cavan

Date of Publication

May 2024

Project dates

Project: 2022
Book launch: 2023

Lead organisation

Kids’ Own Publishing Partnership

Funded By

Foster Care Resource Service for Sligo, Leitrim, and West Cavan; TUSLA


Karina Nachbar, Mary Branley


Literature, Visual Arts

Healthcare context(s)


Nature of project

Collaborative/ participatory



Web link



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