Local residents and community representatives from Donegal and Tyrone came together to celebrate the achievements of the latest participants of the ‘Activ8’ Project run by Donegal Youth Service. The event also marked the conclusion of this highly successful two year project, funded by the International Fund for Ireland under its Peace Impact Programme, which brought together young people from both sides of the border to take part in community-based training and development. The celebration event took place in the Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny where the latest group of participants received their certificates.The Activ8 project commenced in September 2014 and was originally scheduled to operate for 14 months. However, due to the significant interest expressed in the project and the successful results, Donegal Youth Services applied to IFI for additional funding to extend the project for a further 12 months, enabling an additional 36 new participants to engage in the project, alongside 24 of the existing participants who undertook additional training.
Over the two year period, the project worked with over 100 young people aged 16-24 years, providing hands-on community engagement and Open College Network accredited training in Community Development, Practical Youth Work, Youth Leadership Training, Mentoring Training among other activities. Other elements of the project included cross-border trips focusing on anti-sectarianism and peace-building. These included workshops with ex-prisoners, visits to Orange Halls and round table discussions with local politicians on both sides of the border.
Speaking at the event, Mr Paddy Harte, Board Member of the International Fund for Ireland said: “The Fund was delighted to support this unique outreach project which sought to engage with individuals and groups in targeted urban and rural areas that had not previously participated in community development or peace building activities. The success of the ‘Activ8’ project in engaging young people has exceeded all expectations and I would like to congratulate everyone involved in the project for their enthusiastic support and participation. The outcome is that over 100 young people from both sides of the border have participated in the project since it commenced in 2014 , learned new skills and gained a better understanding of the benefits of peace and reconciliation which I have no doubt will be of great benefit to them personally and to their communities in future years”.
Charlene Logue from Donegal Youth Service thanked the IFI for the funding support, “without which this project would not have been possible to begin with, never mind to extend over a second year. This project has encouraged people to get involved in community life, to learn and accept history, culture and tradition as well as receive training. It has been rewarding to see so many people come together to support the project and get involved in activities. Feedback from the participants has been very positive and there can be no doubt that the young people’s comfort with and tolerance and respect for diversity has increased”.
Since commencing in 2013, the IFI’s Peace Impact Programme (PIP) has supported 56 projects across Northern Ireland and the southern border counties of Ireland with €5,732,607/£4,586,085 in funding. It aims to build sustainable peace and reconciliation within and between communities suffering from high levels of economic and social deprivation; where there are low levels of engagement in peace building and where there remains a continued risk of instability and violence.