We talk of a country at peace, and the majority of us also wish for one. In reality however, the peace process is still an ongoing one, one which the Ulster Project Delaware is helping Coleraine contribute to.
After the Enniskillen bombing back in the late 80s’, local women Dorothy Black got involved with the project.
Ulster Project Delaware is a cross community project which works to secure positive relations within Northern Ireland by actively involving numerous teenagers from the local area.
Project Coordinator Dorothy told The Coleraine Times that she got involved due to her belief ‘that schools have a role in addressing issues that face young people in the society they live, and that all of us have a responsibility to work for the common good of that society’.
As part of this work, every July the UPD takes a group of teenagers to Wilmington, Delaware in the USA.
Dorothy feels the most rewarding part of the whole experience ‘has been seeing young people develop and put something back into the community’. Friendships formed through the project have lasted down through the years.
The July groups are made up of eighteen teens, half Catholic, half Protestant, as well as being a half male, half female.
July 2012 was no exception- The summer of 2012 saw a group of eighteen Coleraine teens and four leaders set off to the USA where the teenagers involved were paired with their American host teenagers.
During the time they spent in the USA, and through the activities that they undertook, the group developed lifelong friendships. Friendships so strong, that July 2013 saw the UPD host a reunion tour.
The Americans’ arrival saw the teens meet with the Mayor of Coleraine, councillor David Harding, who both welcomed the visitors and applauded the efforts of all involved.
Their arrival was then followed by two weeks crammed with cultural and historical visits around the coast, as well as visits to Belfast and Derry/ Londonderry.
The 2013 visit included a talk by Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, on the history of the peace process in Northern Ireland as well as the continuation of its progress.
Project Co-ordinator Dorothy added: “Since the project has been founded, over hundred teenagers have been involved from the areas of Coleraine, Portadown and Banbridge.”
2014 will see the 25th anniversary of the project and past participants are asked to get in touch as planning begins to mark this very special event.