The North East PEACE III Sport for Peace Building Project was officially launched in Coleraine Borough Council civic headquarters at Cloonavin, by Olympian Dame Mary Peters, last Thursday.
ThE project aims to develop a shared future using sport as a medium to improve trust and cultural understanding.
Speaking at the launch Dame Mary Peters said “Since winning my medal in 1972 I have been in the privileged position of supporting young people to achieve their best in sport.
“There are so many young people purposely involved in sport but there could always be more. Projects such as this embrace everyone I strongly support the North East PEACE III Partnership and the six councils who have the wisdom to believe in this initiative.”
The Sport for Peace Building Project will build partnerships and create local shared spaces. It is one of a number initiatives that make up the multi-million pound North East PEACE III programme, funded under PEACE III by the Special European Union Programmes Body.
The project has three main themes – engagement, empowerment and legacy and will be specific to local needs within each Council area within the North East Cluster.
The objective is to encourage people to become fully engaged in activities not normally associated with their community background, whilst using sport as a way to develop understanding of other cultures. This practical involvement in a safe environment will help build trust and challenge negative perceptions.
The project will involve a range of innovative courses and activities designed to get local people involved through sport and create opportunities to get together with elements available to primary schools, secondary schools, sports clubs and the general public.
The North East PEACE III Programme covers the six Council areas of Ballymena, Ballymoney, Coleraine, Larne, Limavady, and Moyle.
Welcoming people to the launch, the Mayor of Coleraine, alderman Maurice Bradley, said: “In Coleraine we are very proud of our peace building partnership with the neighbouring councils.
“ I am especially proud of the lead role Coleraine provides in this cluster, and in my own membership on the Board of the North East PEACE III Partnership.
“Through our actions we are working in partnership to promote reconciliation and building positive relationships.
“Our PEACE III vision is to acknowledge the different cultures, traditions and communities that live and exist across the North East area, and through our Sports for Peace project we are doing exactly that.
“Sport is a positive and effective vehicle which has proven to facilitate peace building through sharing experiences from different cultures”.
The North East PEACE III Sports for Peace Project has been awarded the Olympic 2012 Truce Inspire mark. It aims to use the excitement generated by the 2012 Games and the Olympic Torch coming to Northern Ireland, to inspire people in local communities to take part and get involved.
This project will engage with our schools to inspire young people and communities to try a new sport. The project is actively promoting and encouraging respect, friendship and equality.
Alderman Jack Rankin, Chairman of the Joint Committee of the North East PEACE III Partnership, said: “The Sport for Peace Programme targets groups from disadvantaged areas, marginalised groups and ethnic minority groups from the North East.
“The aim is for participants to gain an appreciation of the different cultures which exist across the NE area. They will have the opportunity to join in sports and leisure activities not normally associated with their community background and engage in activities, which raise awareness and respect of other cultures.”
SPORTING BOOST...Dame Mary Peters surrounded by elected representatives from the six partnership council areas, taking forward the launch of the North East PEACE III Sport for Peace Building Project in Coleraine Borough Council’s civic headquarters. Pictured are Mayor of Ballymoney Borough Council Councillor Ian Stevenson, Alderman Jack Rankin from Limavady Borough Council, Alderman Maurice Mills from Ballymena Borough Council, Councillor Joan Baird from Moyle District Council and Mayor of Coleraine Borough Council, Alderman Maurice Bradley. cr5-235S