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‘Driving Forward Project’ to up-skill Leitrim youth through the medium of Sport

Published on:  03 Jul 2014

On Tuesday, 1st July, representatives from the International Fund for Ireland, Leitrim County Council, the FAI and Leitrim GAA were on hand to launch the ‘Driving Forward Project’. The project aims to bring 25 participants from the ages of 18 – 25 together through the medium of sport.

This year long project will work with early school leavers and people with literacy difficulties in Ballinamore, Kinlough and Manorhamilton in Co. Leitrim. The project will promote the personal transformation of individuals through training, up skilling and confidence building. The ‘Driving Forward Project’ will also give participants the chance to examine and challenge their attitudes to the conflict which will ultimately aim to consolidate a more cohesive relationship between Protestant and Catholic communities. 

Funded by the International Fund for Ireland and Leitrim County Council, the ‘Driving Forward Project’ will consist of peace and reconciliation training, team building, I.T skills, driver theory test training, safe pass qualification, first aid, foundation soccer training, foundation GAA training, foundation rugby training and literacy training. The project was designed to generate cross border respect, utilising sport as a medium to promote reconciliation and understanding among young people from county Leitrim.

Gordon Burke, ‘Driving Forward Project’ Coordinator, said: “Driving Forward is an exciting and unique initiative that will give participants new sports coaching qualifications while building their confidence by providing literacy training and I.T. skills.  Unfortunately high levels of unemployment and emigration is an ongoing problem particularly in rural areas and this causes 18 to 25 year olds with literacy difficulties to be excluded from employment.  The Driving Forward Project training programme will give participants the opportunity to learn at their own pace in a friendly environment.  The Driving Forward Project promotes the concept of active citizenship and the practical sports coaching qualifications that the participants acquire will aid the sustainability of local sports clubs and youth groups”.

Catherine Ryan of the International Fund for Ireland said:  “The Fund is committed to the long-term task of breaking down traditional barriers in order to help build positive relations between different communities and traditions; this is why we are proud to be associated with this ‘Driving Forward Project’. Sport has proven itself as an ideal medium for engagement of young people and will be a key recruitment tool in this project. The team building will be an important element in getting the group to work together and increase their self-esteem both individually and collectively which is often the fundamental step in overcoming literacy difficulties. The cultural awareness and conflict resolution training will also form an important part of the project in helping to deal with the legacy of the troubles in this area and its effect on these young people.  Ultimately, this programme will create the nurturing conditions for learning and engagement that will enhance the self-development of the participants, and thereby the community development of all involved. We wish the participants and organisers the very best of luck with the project over the next year.”

Catherine Ryan also expressed a collective thanks to the international donors who have supported the work of the International Fund for Ireland for more than twenty-five years: namely, the United States of America, the European Union, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

To register for the programme or find out more details, contact the Project Administrator, Gordon Burke on: 071 9620005 Ext: 532 or email

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