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Lurgan's

Lurgan's Young People Empowered To Build Peace

Published on:  03 Nov 2009

Young people from across Lurgan's interface areas have been learning how to deal with community relations and take practical steps towards peace building through the Jethro Youth Reach Project.

At an event to celebrate their achievements at Lurgan's Jethro Centre last night, Denis Rooney CBE, Chairman of the International Fund for Ireland awarded the Project's participants with certification for Open College Network courses entitled: "Understanding Diversity within Society" and "Contentious Issues."

The young people, 15 to 18 year-olds, gained the qualifications as part of the Jethro Youth Reach Project. The Project is managed by the Shankill Parish Caring Association and funded by the International Fund for Ireland's Community Bridges Programme, which provided £226,540 towards the initiative. The Church of Ireland Priorities Fund also contributed to the Project with funding of £30,000.

The aim of the three-year cross-community Project is to teach local young people how to address community relations issues and engage in the process of peace building, while equipping them with real qualifications and credit points in the process. The Open College Network courses are equivalent to GCSE credit points or NVQ levels 1 and 2.

In the first year of the Project, 34 young people participated. Up to 50 young people at risk of engaging in anti-social behaviour in interface areas across the Lurgan area are expected to take part in each subsequent year.

Speaking at the event, Mr Rooney said: "At the core of the International Fund for Ireland's current strategy is a focus on peace building, reconciliation and sustainable positive change. We are working with communities throughout the island of Ireland to identify interventions that will continue to have an impact long after the Fund ceases to exist. What better way to make a positive impact than to empower young people to take ownership of their own futures and the futures of their communities.

"I would like to congratulate the participants on their maturity and foresight in choosing to take part in this Project."

The Shankill Parish Caring Association has a long history of community work in the Lurgan area and the Jethro Centre itself has made a very positive cross-community impact.

Richard Dougherty, Youth Reach Development Officer, Shankill Parish Caring Association, said: "The main goal of this Project was to work with local young people at a grass roots level to help give them a sense of purpose, and new sets of skills that they can build on and bring back to their own communities. By educating them in managing conflict and contentious issues, while providing participants with the opportunity to volunteer on subsequent years of the project, it is truly a Project that is delivered for local young people, by local young people."

 

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