This week’s blog is brought to you by PPI-NI international fellow, Andrew Daniels!
Hello everyone!! I have just realized that in a couple of days I will have reached the six-month mark from when I first arrived in Belfast… but who’s counting?
A lot has happened in those six months, so much so that I couldn’t possibly write about it all! That being said, I can write about one of the bigger projects I have been working on; Together Everyone Achieves More in Sport (T.E.A.M.S.). This project is a little different than some of our core programming at PeacePlayers. T.E.A.M.S. is in partnership with the Mid & East Antrim Borough Council and is funded by Peace IV. It is taking place outside of Belfast in the communities of Ballymena, Carrickfergus and Larne to be exact! The project is a combination of all the work PPI-NI has become known for; developing leaders, changing perceptions and bridging divides, with a twist.
Although T.E.A.M.S uses sport to bridge divides, change perceptions and develop leaders like all our programmes, this project’s main sport of focus isn’t basketball, but rather a wide variety of sports. Basketball was still used in some of the sessions, but the participants and young leaders also had the opportunity to play sports such as football, American football, unihock, dodgeball, badminton and several more!
One of the objectives for the T.E.A.M.S project is to train young leaders in each area to deliver PeacePlayer-like programming. As such, over the course of three separate residentials, myself and an additional PeacePlayer staff member delivered our Promoting Diversity Through Sport OCN to 15 young leaders from each community. The residentials provided an opportunity for us to not only to train the young leaders, but it was also an opportunity to have a bit of fun and do some team building and bonding.
The next stage of the project was where we delivered the multi-sport sessions in each community for 7-11 year olds. The 15 young leaders got the opportunity to put that training to use by helping coach, teach and mentor during each session. Over the 7 weeks of the project delivery, I got to see how different communities reacted to our PeacePlayers teachings and values. I was so impressed with the participant’s ability to understand some of our community-relations themes as well as cooperate with each other and compete for prizes throughout the multi-sports. Many of the participants came without knowing how to play many of the sports and without knowing many of their teammates. Over the many sessions, I got to witness the teams and individuals grow stronger in all aspects, not just in sport, but in our PeacePlayers values as well!
In addition, I got to see the young leaders grow and develop as mentors to the participants. I was blown away with how first class all the young leaders were. I certainly hope we continue to work with them because they are the next leaders of their communities and we need more people like them who are willing to keep doing the good work!
These moments, when you look back on everything you have been a part of and everything you have been able to accomplish are the moments that make you realize this is what it’s all about! I can’t believe I have been here for 6 months already, and furthermore, I can’t believe how much I have done whilst here… but most importantly, I can’t believe how much I have gained and grown from this experience!
One last big shout out to the Carrick YMCA, Larne YMCA and Ballymena NRC peeps who took part in this project! We are a community, and we would not be able to do what we do without all of your help!
A project supported by the European Union’s PEACE IV Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body (SEUPB).