YOUNGSTERS from Warrington and Ireland took part in a special exchange programme based at Warrington Peace Centre to help spread the message of peace through their respective communities.
The third and final phase of the Tim Parry Leadership Development Programme took place at the Peace Centre involving a four day residential programme which saw a group of 20 young people from England, Northern Ireland and the Republic come together for the final leg of their learning programme.
The programme, funded by the DFA in the Republic of Ireland is the longest running programme of the Foundation and is targeted at working with young people to develop their skills and understanding in relation to conflict ad the non-violent resolution of conflict.
Exploring themes and topics ranging from International conflicts and sectarianism and contemporary challenges such as racism and Islamophobia that exist in all communities- the programme works to increase young peoples’ understanding of those issues that divide and threaten to divide our communities. Crucially, the young people also look at issues in their own communities and how their own individual actions can effect change.
The residential programmes are highly participatory with participants engaged in activities ranging from games to formal lectures/ speakers.
Programme Manager Kelly Simcock said: “The aim is to equip the young people with the skills and understanding to go back into their communities and effect positive change. Whether that be that they challenge discriminatory comments and prejudice; or that they take on a formal leadership role in their communities with their peers- it’s all about doing things differently’.
During the final residential, the group were visited by Colin and Wendy Parry who reinforced the importance of trust and understanding in peace building. Colin encouraged the group to ‘keep in touch’ and remember the experiences that they had shared – and to use these in whatever way they can to contribute to the achievement of peaceful communities.
Programme worker Gemma Benns said ‘It was great to see how the young people developed over the course of the three residentials – by the end of the programme, you could see how much people’s attitudes and mindsets had shifted and that the new skills that they had learnt were being put into practice’.
The 20 youngsters previously took part in leadership programmes in Northern and Southern Ireland.
Pictures show the youngsters in Northern Ireland and with Colin and Wendy Parry at the Peace Centre.