This week’s blog post is written by Senior Project Coordinator, Joanne Fitzpatrick. We have a look at what our Champions4Peace have got up to this year…. Spoiler alert!! They’ve been busy!!!
Our Champions4Peace (C4P) year usually kicks off fairly quietly in September of each year, slowly introducing newer members and waving goodbye to the older participants as they move onto our other programmes or graduate to being coaches. With a group of 30 junior C4Ps (ages 11-15) and 20 senior C4Ps (ages 15-18) there was no way the year would start quietly.
Junior and Senior C4P groups at the start of the year
In early October, we took 30 of our junior and senior C4Ps to Carlingford Activity Centre to help some of the newer members of the group find their feet. We had our senior C4Ps playing the part of mentors over the course of the weekend, as the group were challenged to a high-ropes and zip line course. Helping and supporting each other to face their fears, the group started their year with trust and respect.
The kids getting some selfie lessons from Coach Leif in Carlingford
Facing our fears as we zipped through the forest together
In November, we discussed the various cultural celebrations that happen throughout the year in Northern Ireland and how diverse our traditions really are. In the spirit of cultural diversity, we took the junior C4Ps to visit the Ulster American Folk Park where they learned about the history that links our roots of Ulster and America. With Thanksgiving looming, we celebrated with some hotdogs, burgers, bowling and ice-hockey, cheering on our friends from Providence College as we watched them take on Clarkson University in the Friendship Four finals.
“The Thanksgiving Day out was an amazing experience to learn about the history of Irish emigration and the bowling and ice hockey game was the perfect end to a perfect day” – Holly McCluskey, Junior C4P
Erin (East Belfast) and Chris (West Belfast) showing their thanks for friends, family and PeacePlayers in the Ulster American Folk Park.
With the cold setting in and Christmas approaching, we would usually take a break around this time, but not this year. In December we took 32 of our young people to Share Discovery Village beside the very scenic Lough Erne. Our young people took this time to get to know each other on a deeper level. Through circle process discussions, activities and team building sessions, both junior and senior C4Ps united in a new way. By sharing more about who they were and what they face in their lives outside of PeacePlayers, they bonded with new found commonalities and respect for each other.
“The residential to share village was honestly the best residential, I made a lot more friends and it was amazing!” – Emily Rose, Junior C4P
Junior and Senior C4Ps showing their teamwork during an outdoor lazer tag session
January and February proved the benefit of building the relationship between all of the C4Ps as the seniors began to volunteer to help deliver at the Junior C4P meetings. Helping as graduates of the junior C4P programme to deliver sessions in goal setting, stereotypes and public speaking, their passion and experience shone as they took the floor.
“After only moving up to senior C4P in September I really enjoyed getting to go back and help out at the juniors meeting. It was great to see how the new and old members mixed so well with one another.” – Eimear Ward, Senior C4P
“It was interesting to see the perspective of participants in the jnr c4p programme on public speaking, I also enjoyed hearing their opinions on gender stereotypes” – Rachel Madden, Senior C4P
“These participants have bright futures and it was so great to see them shine during the sessions.” – Nora Sullivan, Senior C4P
Senior C4Ps leading a discussion on stereotypes with the Juniors
To say that we’re all very excited for the upcoming months with our Junior and Senior C4Ps working together, is an understatement. The groups are gelling and growing at such a rapid pace, the next few months are set to be amazing.
Monthly Junior and Senior meetings
Sat 24th Mar – Disability Inclusion in Sport Training for all 50 of our C4Ps
Sat 3 & Sun 4th Mar – Together: Builidng United Communities celebration event
Fri 9th & Sat 10th Mar – C4P mini St Patrick’s day (the history and traditions)
Fri 15th & Sat 16th Jun – C4P mini 12th July (the history and traditions)