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Opportunity Youth - Reaching Them Young celebrates success

Published on:  01 Dec 2011

The participants of the Reaching Them Young Project managed by Opportunity Youth, celebrated their success in a special event last night held in North Belfast.

The project was aimed at  young people aged 11-21 who feel socially isolated or excluded from their communities and who are at risk of, or engaged in offending. It aims to help reintegrate them back into their communities through individually tailored plans, mentoring, training and family support.

During the 2-year project, in East/West/North Belfast and the Creggan/Fountain areas of Londonderry, over 270 young people have successfully settled back into their own communities as a result of their participation.

The International Fund for Ireland made £496,320 available towards the project which placed great emphasis on promoting learning and reconciliation within communities. Opportunity Youth recognises that many of the participants have drifted into anti-social behaviour, drug or alcohol abuse and crime and the project aimed to provide support to help young people break out of this circle. The project also focused on promoting peace and reconciliation within the home, as often problems with family life can affect whole lives.

Speaking at the event, Anne Henderson, Board Member of the International Fund for Ireland, said: “The Fund is pleased to have supported this project which is a practical demonstration of the Fund’s strategy of promoting peace and reconciliation by bringing people together from different backgrounds, but who are facing common issues together to deal with those issues.

“The young people who have stepped up this evening to showcase their talents are an inspiration to us all. They have moved from having few options nor qualifications and maybe living on the fringes of society, to turning their lives around, gaining self esteem, qualifications and importantly the confidence to reintegrate into their communities and follow their dreams and aspirations. I would like to congratulate each and everyone of them.”

During its final phase Reaching Them Young used art as a medium to explore conflict and reconciliation with a number of young people as part of their mentoring support service. The artwork was displayed at the celebration event.

Nick Garbutt, Chairman of Opportunity Youth commented: “All young people deserve to have the opportunity to make the most of their lives. In the past two years we have helped 270 youngsters to do just that and tonight is all about celebrating their success. We are very grateful for the support of the International Fund for Ireland that has made this possible through its generous financial support and most of all we would like to thank the young people who take on all that they have learned back into their communities to lead positive and fruitful lives.”


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