Over the last twelve months, the Trust worked with 72 young people on the Young Leaders and Ambassadors programme in Northern Ireland as part of the Together: Building a United Community Strategy. The programme was delivered in partnership with PeacePlayers International on behalf of the Department for Communities (DfC). In total 54 young people went through the Young Leader programme with a further 18 attending the Young Ambassadors strand.

Throughout the programme, both groups attended regular sessions with their athlete mentors and coaches from PeacePlayers. Sessions ranged from Team Building and Story Telling to Mental Health First Aid and Good Relations with a huge amount of other content delivered as well. Both groups also benefitted from visits from high profile Ambassadors such as Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol and Paolo Ross from Cool FM who shared their amazing stories and provided inspiration to the young people. Creating inspirational young leaders is key to the vision of the DfC to unite communities across Northern Ireland and these young people have honed their skills, working with 11-16 year olds in schools and communities across Northern Ireland.

The film above highlights four young people who attended the programmes and worked with the Trust’s elite athletes who mentored them and helped them to develop their leadership skills. Jordan had already attended the Young Leaders programme previously and graduated onto the Ambassador stream this year, Gary has developed into a real leader within the local community according to our local partners in North Belfast and Stacey and Rachel are just partway through their Young Leaders journey but have already developed their confidence and are displaying great leadership qualities.

It's my hope for this programme that they get the opportunity to develop as individuals and find the confidence and strength to chase their dreams and use their skills and stretch themselves, the world is their oyster

Liz Johnson, athlete mentor


There were so many highlights of the past year, but two stand out. In August 2019, seven Young Ambassadors visited Rwanda on a Commonwealth Games Council led journey where they engaged in a world leading programme covering Human Rights in Sport. They attended conferences, worked with local youth groups and learned all about Umuganda which roughly translates as 'coming together in common purpose to achieve an outcome’. Lauren, who was on the trip said:

We learnt a lot about Rwandan culture and how important community is for them; about the genocide which devastated the country and how the people have come together to rebuild their society and work towards a more positive future for all - whilst commemorating those they have lost. This approach is something we can apply at home in relation to the lasting impact felt in Northern Ireland due to 'The Troubles' and our work in the Uniting Communities programmes.


Following this trip, Aaron was invited to speak at the 2019 Sporting Chance Forum in Geneva, held by the Centre for Sport and Human Rights, representing the Young Ambassadors, further demonstrating the leadership developed via the programme

In February of this year ten Ambassadors travelled to Liverpool, to meet up with young people engaged on programmes with the Trust in England as well as experiencing how sport is used to address social issues in another major city. They cooked up a storm at a Community Kitchen, visited Everton in the Community to see how a major football club delivers an outreach programme as well as stretching themselves at our athlete mentor Henry Cookey’s Ninja Warrior gym.


Ben Hilton, CEO of the Trust said:

The Trust were thrilled to have worked alongside the Department for Communities together with PeacePlayers for the last two years. Seeing the development the young people have made across both the Young Leaders and Ambassadors programme has been inspirational to see and we look forward to following their journeys with interest.

The Trust are proud to have worked with DfC and PeacePlayers in Northern Ireland over the last twelve months and wish all the Young Leaders and Ambassadors the best of luck in all their future endeavours. We are keen to continue working in Northern Ireland to offer opportunities to young people throughout the country to work alongside our athlete mentors to help them develop the confidence, resilience and self esteem needed to succeed in life.