Today’s blog was written by PPI-NI intern, Keziah Richards.
Last June, PeacePlayers International-Northern Ireland was selected to deliver the United Youth pilot project sponsored by the Northern Ireland Department of Employment & Learning to provide opportunities for young people not in employment, education, or training to gain employable skills. Since then, PPI-NI has worked with seven young adults between the ages of 16-24 to gain new skills and qualifications for future employment. Our ‘United Youthers’ spanned from a Social Work college graduate to an aspiring Computer Science student to single parents. As a graduate intern, I worked as a peer mentor within the United Youth project supporting by facilitating and creating workshops.
Our sports and cross-community centered workshops, teambuilding activities, and volunteer coaching in core programs such as twinnings and the Belfast Interface League (BIL), has enabled young adults to develop leadership skills, gain confidence, and serve as mentors for participants in our core programs. The video below captures PPI-NI Operations Team Leader, Debbie Byrne talking more about PPI-NI’s role in the United Youth pilot.
Along with earning Open College Network (OCN) certificate courses to strengthen their CV’s and further professional development, United Youthers worked hands-on in designing an OCN course tailored to the PeacePlayers perspective for participants in our Junior Champions4Peace program. Through their experience in participating in OCN’s, they created and delivered a training course on prejudice and discrimination through a sporting lens. They not only gained academic qualifications, but direct experience in applying critical thinking to a design process, and confidence through presenting the course to a group of learners.
Personally, I believe the balance of support and responsibility from PPI-NI staff enabled an environment for our United Youthers to grow as leaders, to further their capacity-building within PPI-NI, and to continue to add value to the good relations efforts in Northern Ireland.