Last Thursday, the 26th of November 2015 marked an historic night in the life of PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland (PPI-NI) – a celebration event was held in parliament buildings at Stormont, Belfast.
Last Thursday night we celebrated the achievements of the young people who participated in our first ever (4 day/3 night residential) PPI-NI camp – CAMP ALPHA. Our youth were joined by their parents as we congratulated them on participation in the camp. We also celebrated their achievement of the Open College Network accredited certification. Out of 60 total participants – 52 of our young people now have recognised qualifications in Understanding Diversity through Sport and Peer Leadership.
We also celebrated our Champions for Peace programme, in particular the Senior Champions for Peace who graduated from a successful year of participation.
An excited bunch gathered in the “Great Hall” and had some time to mingle, then look around at some of the government chambers. After some delicious food, our Chairman Trevor kicked off the formal proceedings.
“it is events like this that show what can be achieved. PPI-NI’s unique approach has a focus on facilitating an important “4th Half” of community relations conversations and capacity building. This 4th half compliments the sport based contact elements of the initiative and helps to realise and release the full potential of sport for reconciliation and peace building work.”
Next we heard from two Junior Ministers from the Office of the First and Deputy First Minster (OFMDFM): Emma Pengelly and Jennifer Mc Cann. Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said: “The 60 young people who successfully completed this Summer Camp are ambassadors for our new Shared Future……The days of sectarianism and segregation must come to an end, our legacy cannot be more of the same. Our children and grandchildren deserve better, now is the time to banish it forever. While, Junior Minister Emma Pengelly said: “The Summer Camps are an important part of our Together: Building a United Community Strategy that outlines a vision for the future based on equality of opportunity, and a desire for good relations and reconciliation.
The buzz and energy of the evening was palpable and everyone knew that it was a night to celebrate not only the achievements of Camp Alpha but the achievements of Peace Players as a family.
In his closing statement, PPI-NI’s Managing Director Gareth Harper stated: “At PeacePlayers, we are in the business of doing ourselves out of business. Our young people will be important champions to peace and will help us to achieve that goal all the greater.”