The Young Leaders Training and Ambassadors 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.

The programme will engage young people in sports, physical and creative activities that bring communities together and help create the next generation of community leaders.

  • Over a third of the population of Northern Ireland is under the age of under 25.
  • 31% say they rarely or never socialise with people from a different religious community.
  • 64% of young people would prefer to live in a mixed religion neighbourhood
  • 49% of young people agree that most people would like to have more friends of a different religion but never have the opportunity.
  • Young people want to see us moving towards a more shared, reconciled and united community.

The programme is being delivered by Dame Kelly Holmes Trust in partnership with PeacePlayers International NI on behalf of the Department of Communities in various locations in Northern Ireland such as Erne East, the Colin and Eastside areas of Belfast and North Belfast.

The programme is divided into two streams:

Young Leaders will attend a twelve month training programme that will equip them with the tools and skills to become leaders within their own communities. They will learn how to build a team, develop mentoring skills as well as learning more about issues facing the communities they all live in. The long-term vision is for the young leaders to become the next generation of community leaders and proactive champions for building a united community by delivering projects in the area.

Young Ambassadors will enable young people to develop their leadership skills further to become agents of social change and to further good relations for their peers, families and their communities, through a structured process of training and mentoring support using physical activity, sport and creative activities.  Young Ambassadors will already have come through the Young Leaders  or an equivalent programme and will be equipped with the necessary skills to run sessions and programmes of their own within their communities.

The programme was officially launched on 18th September as part of Good Relations Week at Queen's University in Belfast. Dame Kelly Holmes and Leo O’Reilly, the Department for Communities Permanent Secretary were in attendance to kick off the event as 150 children from across Belfast took part in sessions delivered by athletes from the Trust, PeacePlayers staff and current Young Leaders and Ambassadors.