As part of a unique partnership with PeacePlayers International Northern Ireland, the Trust will design and develop a programme that enables young people to become agents of social change and impact positively on the lives of their peers, families and their communities.

The Young Leaders programme will be led by young people, who will tackle key good relations issues within their local community, with guidance and supervision from a mentor figure.

Participants will be responsible for engaging with other young people, with the aim to improve their attitudes towards religious, political, ethnic differences and marginalised community members. This will incorporate a focus on health, obesity, drug and alcohol misuse, and anti-social behaviour, using sport and physical activity as the catalyst for change.

The project is being funded by Department for Communities through their Together: Building a United Community Strategy.

Fergus Devitt, Director of Active Communities Division, Department of Communities, commented: “The Department for Communities is responsible for the delivery of the Uniting Communities programme which aims to build good relations through sports and creativity.  It is instrumental that our young leaders on the programme have access to high quality training and opportunities to become Ambassadors for the programme and for their communities.  We are delighted to appoint Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and PeacePlayers to assist with the delivery of this key element of our programme.”

Dame Kelly Holmes, Founder and President at Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, said: “We are delighted to be working in Northern Ireland for the first time in the charity’s history.

“We were selected by Department for Communities because of our strong track record in developing programmes that not only transform the lives of young people but empower them to have a positive impact on the lives others and address key social issues.

“I am confident that our expertise and experience in this area will create something special, which delivers tangible and high impact outcomes to enhance the lives of young people in the region.”

Johnny Davis has been appointed to head up the Trust’s operations in Northern Ireland. Johnny has extensive experience of delivering activities within the T:BUC framework and has a strong understanding of the Trust’s work as a former Olympic athlete.

He added: “I am delighted to be working with Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and helping to bring their transformational work to Northern Ireland.

“Since 2008, the charity has had a phenomenal impact across England, Scotland and Wales, adding over £23 million of social value in the past four years alone.

“The potential for the Trust to transform lives and communities in Northern Ireland is extraordinary and I look forward to ensuring their work expands in the region over the coming years.”

Trevor Ringland, Chair of PeacePlayers International - Northern Ireland, added: “This is a fantastic opportunity and we are excited to work with the Trust in exploring and realising the benefits of sport for building relations for the benefit of the individuals involved and for wider society.”