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Moving Forward Together

on .

Youth For PeaceLast year, Youth Work Ireland based in Castleblayney, County Monaghan, joined forces as lead partner with Dee Street Community Centre in East Belfast and the Clones Erne East Partnership on the Monaghan Fermanagh border, to deliver a youth-focused project. The Youth for Peace - Moving Forward Together Project as it is called, was designed to provide opportunities for contact and dialogue between young people aged 12-25, from Unionist and Nationalist backgrounds across the three areas/regions.

The project focuses on taking around 130 young participants on a journey, challenging their current attitudes to and perceptions of each other and building positive relationships between their communities through exploration of their similarities and differences. Using a combination of single identity and joint activity, the young people on the project, equipped with the knowledge of their similarities and differences, challenge the barriers to reconciliation in order to create a shared vision of an interdependent and fair society.

The project also has an intergenerational dimension with many of the young people engaging with older people, including ex-prisoners, from their own community and the different communities in an attempt to further their understanding of the barriers to lasting peace and reconciliation.

 

The Youth for Peace - Moving Forward Together Project is taking place over a 22-month time period. A number of significant events have already taken place that have generated great feedback. Among these was the Peace through Exercise initiative, an event which culminated in 120 people recycling old bicycles whilst sharing their experiences. In addition, 45 cyclists travelled from Belfast to Kinnego camp site, from Cookstown to Dungannon, from Armagh to Monaghan, and from Clones to Lisnaskea and Enniskillen. Cyclists were hosted at receptions along the way and were escorted by the PSNI and An Garda Síochána respectively.

This proved to be a very emotional time for the group of cyclists which was characterised by the bonds of teamwork and friendship that were formed, regardless of their age, religious, political or geographical background. A real testament to the achievements of the project is best expressed through the brief words of one of the young Monaghan based participants: “Everyone is really the same at the end of the day, we just need to see past the labels.”