Over 150 young people from across Northern Ireland came together on 18th September to launch this year’s Young Leaders Training and Ambassadors Programme. 

The programme aims to create a group of highly motivated, skilled and socially responsible young people who are enthusiastic about driving forward positive change in their communities and in society.  It will be delivered on behalf of the Department of Communities by the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust in partnership with PeacePlayers International NI.

The launch of the programme in Belfast involved young people aged 11-13 from post primary schools across Northern Ireland who had the opportunity to try out a range of activities including African Drumming and Calligraphy while talking and learning about good relations and how they can help change their communities. These sessions were led by Trust athletes and also current Young Ambassadors.

Speaking at the launch Leo O’Reilly, Department for Communities Permanent Secretary said:

“The programme provides a new approach to developing the next generation of young leaders on a cross community basis. 

It provides young people with skills and knowledge on how to deliver programmes in their local areas paving the way for a peaceful society using the mediums of sport, physical and creative activities."

When the participants graduate from the Young Leaders programme they will progress onto Ambassador level which is considered to be at a train the trainer standard.

Also in attendance at the launch Dame Kelly Holmes, President and Founder, Dame Kelly Holmes Trust said:

"I am very excited to be in Belfast today to help launch this year's Young Leaders Training and Ambassadors Programme. This is the first time my charity has worked in Northern Ireland and we are honoured to have this opportunity. Throughout the ten years of the Trust, we have always believed in empowering young people to become leaders in their communities and I am looking forward to seeing the positive impact these young people can have in the months and years ahead."

The programme has proven very successful with many positive impacts on both young people and their communities.  It also highlights a unique partnership with Peace Players International NI who bring immense expertise in terms of peace building and good relations techniques.  Trevor Ringland, PeacePlayers Chairman said:

"At PeacePlayers we are really excited about this brilliant partnership with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust.  The organisations share a common ethos and focus, which places the young people we work with at the centre of everything.  Through this project we will provide high quality training and experiential learning opportunities that will create a generation of constructive young leaders and ambassadors.  Graduates of the programme will emerge with the confidence, skills and importantly attitudes and attributes that will allow them to realise their potential as agents for positive change in their own areas and beyond".  

    

The programme is currently operating in Erne East, Colin and Eastside areas of Belfast, North Belfast and Kilrea and Rasharkin.  Young leaders from 16 to 24 will be engaged in these areas and trained through the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and Peace Players International. 

You can keep in touch with the progress of the Young Leaders & Ambassadors on Twitter