This week’s blog is brought to you by Nicole Breslin, a sessional coach with PPI-NI. Nicole goes into detail describing some of the work PPI-NI has begun to do outside of Belfast and looks to expand on as we grow into the future. Enjoy!
Hello folks. My name is Nicole and I have been working as a sessional coach for PeacePlayers International in Belfast for almost 5 years. And what a five years it has been!!!
I was recently given the opportunity to run one of my very first programs as a lead coach at the Larne YMCA along with their very own Youth Support Worker in Charge, Dean Nutt.
Every Friday morning for five weeks I was joined by one of PPI’s International fellows, Jazz Bishop, and we made our way to the YMCA is Larne. There we were joined by Dean and two volunteers Adam and Trevor, who at the time were completing our T.E.A.M.S. Programs (Together Everyone Achieves More in Sport) so had received all the necessary training to be coaches for the Twinning Program.
The beginning of each session was marked by the arrival of over 140 Primary 7 pupils (146 to be precise ) from the Moyle Primary School, the Linn Primary School and Saint Mac Nissi’s Primary School. Now, normally our Twinning programs only involve approximately 50-60 students, one class each from two separate schools. We were lucky enough to have two classes from THREE schools, making our Friday morning sessions. Very exciting indeed.
Once everyone had arrived, dropped off their coats and made their way to the sports hall they were split into four teams. For the next 2 hours they would spend 20-minute intervals at four different interactive stations involving basketball drills, team building games and community relations activities (CR).
The basketball provided a gate way for the young people to make friends with kids from the other schools, the team building gave them time in their teams to work together constructively in a group, improving skills such as communication, co-operation and leadership. Finally, the CR created a safe, neutral space for the kids to discuss and develop their understanding of key topics such as discrimination, respect and peer influence. Each week the entire group showed incredible enthusiasm for every single activity, proving how effective the PeacePlayers Twinning Program is.
On our final week Dean helped us step it up to the next level. After completing a final evaluation with myself and PeacePlayers’ Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist Laura, and several basketball competitions in the sports hall with Operations Team Leader Debbie we had a huge celebration where every single participant received a gold medal and a certificate to recognise their completion of the program. Some individuals who showed true Peace Players spirit throughout the 5 weeks were lucky enough to win an Easter egg on top of their prizes. As if that wasn’t enough Dean had a spectacular chocolate cake made especially for every student and every teacher who helped put the SUPER in our SUPER-Twinning.
I still feel exceptionally lucky to have been able to lead such a unique and fantastic Twinning, the first of what I hope is many to be help in Larne with the help of Dean and the Larne YMCA.