Cross-community project results in new friendships

Young people from Larne with their Detached Youth Project certificates. They are joined by project workers John Wallace and Ross McKenzie. INLT 18-658-CON detach

Young people from Larne with their Detached Youth Project certificates. They are joined by project workers John Wallace and Ross McKenzie. INLT 18-658-CON detach

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TEENAGERS from Larne have been taking part in a far-reaching cross-community initiative.

The Detached Youth Project involved young people, aged between 14 and 17-years-old, from Seacourt, Craigyhill and Antiville.

The Seacourt group engaged in a range of activities including a tour of Crumlin Road Gaol, visits to the Chinese Welfare Association and Indian Community Centre and a beach clean-up of Larne.

The Craigyhill and Antiville group developed a joint plan that focused on their development, leadership skill and improved relationship within their own community and across communities. Among the activities they took part in was a visit to the Grand Opera House to see the play ‘Paisley and Me’ and a political tour of loyalist and republican areas.

They were among 160 young people from Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Limavady and Moyle who attended a celebration event at the Bushtown House Hotel, in Coleraine, on Thursday, which marked the hard work of 12 communities aimed at developing lasting cross-community relationships.

The event also included a video premiere of the project, presentations by some of the young people involved and presentation of certificates.

The initiative was delivered by the Northern Ireland Youth Forum (NIYF) and funded under the European Union’s PEACE III Programme which is managed on behalf of the Special EU Programmes Body by the North East PEACE III Partnership.

Over the past two years, the participants, many of whom had no meaningful contact with the other side of the community, have taken part in training, cultural activities, residentials and cross-border visits that have helped change their perception of other faiths, races and cultures.

Project co-ordinator Neil Symington, from the NIYF, said the project encouraged the young people to address issues such racism, sectarianism, conflict and reconciliation.

“They really put their heart and soul into the project and produced innovative, exciting work, They have formed relationships that hopefully will last the rest of their lives.”