Wednesday night marked a milestone for 200 young participants on the cross- border Youth Links Project as they attended a celebration event in Ballybofey, Co. Donegal. Funded as part of the Community Bridges Programme by the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), Youth Links was developed by the Donegal Youth Service and the Tyrone Donegal Partnership. The project provided opportunities for the young participants and youth organisations, often for the first time, to work together on a cross-border basis.
With cross-border participation at its core, a primary goal of the Youth Links project was to introduce a successful cross-border project for young people that would address the concept of a shared heritage and promote a shared future. The young people had the opportunity to learn about the rich and varied culture of the area, with the aim of building trust and respect for each others’ culture.
The International Fund for Ireland provided funding of €479,623 over the duration of the project. As participants of Youth Links, 600 young people aged 8-25 years from border areas in Donegal, West Tyrone and Fermanagh, worked together to explore diversity and equality .
Speaking at the event, Winston Patterson, Board Member for the International Fund for Ireland, said: "The project, which has engaged with over 600 young people from Lifford, Strabane, Ballintra, Pettigo/Tullyhommon, St. Johnston, Raphoe and Kesh has been a great success. The participants have used art, music, sport and dance to address issues around community identity and difference. " Mr. Patterson also recorded the IFI's appreciation for the international donors to the IFI - the US, EU, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who had made possible the Fund's support for the project.
The celebration event coincided with the closure of the Youth Links programme and the launch of the final report. Participants were presented with Open College Network accreditations and certificates for training undertaken throughout the project.
Charlene Logue, Senior Youth Worker with the Donegal Youth Service said: “I am delighted to have been part of such a hugely successful cross border youth and community project. The project has been about working with young people, getting them to open up and discuss their issues, their prejudices, their baggage, their history, and their culture. The success of the project is due to both the willingness of the participants to engage and the quality of the staff engaged to carry out the work of the project."
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International Fund for Ireland
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